• Changes to the Australian Business Register

    Australian Business Register (ABR) is making changes to the online Australian business number (ABN) application system.

    To allow this to occur, the ABR and AUSkey application systems will be unavailable from 3.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) Wednesday, 24 December 2014 to 7.00am AEDT Friday, 02 January 2015.

    You will still be able to use your AUSkey to access other government online services. However you won't be able to use the AUSkey website during this time to apply, change, replace or cancel your AUSkey.

    Summary of changes

    Save and return

    We are reinstating the save and return function into the online ABN application.

    This function will allow you to save a partially completed ABN application and return to complete it later (within 43 days). You will need to record the reference number and choose a password when saving the application. When you return to the saved application you will need to enter both the password and application reference number. If you forget your password or application reference number, it cannot be reset or retrieved and you will have to start the application again.

    The save and return function gives you time to get any additional information needed, then return and submit a correct and complete ABN application.


    Standard AUSkey holders will be able to view, update and cancel ABN records.

    Administrator AUSkey holders will be able to use Access Manager to set and manage permissions in the ABR for staff in the practice with a standard AUSkey. For example, an administrator will be able to ‘restrict’ certain users from accessing your practice’s ABN record.

    Access permissions for standard AUSkey holders currently held in the Tax Agent Portal will automatically apply to the ABR.

    By accessing your client’s ABN record directly from the ABR using the Tax agent services entry point, you will be provided with that client’s complete information, including associate and location information. Using the link in the Tax Agent Portal does not provide this.

    For increased security, you can no longer access your practice’s ABN record using the tax agent segment of the ABR. Instead, you need to go to the Business, super funds and charities section.


    We have made improvements to the online ABN entitlement assessment to ensure only those entities that are entitled to an ABN receive one. You will be able to assess ABN entitlement for more entity types, including:

    • individuals
    • partnerships
    • trusts
    • companies
    • superannuation entities.

    The ABN entitlement assessment will be mandatory for all entity types. You will need to answer a short series of questions about your client’s entity structure and enterprise activities before being allowed to proceed with their application.

    This allows you to be advised up front if your client is not entitled to an ABN and reduces the chance of the application being referred for manual processing, which can take up to 28 days to resolve.

    If your client is not eligible for an ABN, they will be refused as early as possible in the online session. This saves you time from entering data when your client will only be refused.

    You will be able to check your client’s entitlement to an ABN as many times as you like prior to starting the application. However, you cannot change any responses once you have started the application.

    You will receive an online report indicating whether your client is entitled to an ABN or not, based on the responses provided.


    To ensure they are entered correctly, email addresses and Australian mobile phone numbers will be validated during ABN application and maintenance processes.

    You will receive a message if the ABR finds an already active (or duplicate) ABN record for that client.

    If there is not enough evidence of your client’s identity, the ABR will refuse the application, except when:

    • the entity or associate is a non-resident
    • an associate is under 18 years old.

    In these instances, the application will be held for 43 days allowing you time to gather the required information and contact us. Once you have the information, you will need to contact us to finalise the application.

    You will be able to edit and resubmit your clients’ details up to three times if they fail the proof of identity check.

    You have the option of providing an ABN for non-individual associates. The ABR will return the matching legal name or ask you try again if the ABN is inactive or invalid.

    There will be new associate rules for unlisted public companies, Australian private and public companies and other incorporated entities. Because of this, you will need to provide the required number of associates before the ABN application can proceed.

    • Last modified: 25 Nov 2014QC 818