• ABN entitlement

    Not everyone is entitled to an ABN.

    You're entitled to an ABN if you're either:

    The best way to check if you can get an ABN is to use our tool:

    Apply for an ABN

    Carrying on an enterprise

    An enterprise includes activities done in the form of a business, as well as some other activities including:

    • acting as the trustee of a super fund
    • operating a charity
    • renting or leasing property.

    There is no single test to determine if you're carrying on a business. Features of a business include:

    • the activity is a significant commercial activity, involving commercial sales of products or services, and is of a reasonable size and scale
    • there is an intention to make a profit from the activity as demonstrated by a business plan – unlike with a hobby
    • the activity is repeated
    • the activity is systematic, organised and carried on in a business-like way and records are kept
    • the activity is carried on in a similar way to that of other businesses in the same or similar industry
    • the entity has relevant knowledge or skill.

    See also:

    Start-up activities

    If your business or other enterprise isn't yet underway, you'll need to have undertaken start-up activities such as:

    • advertising, setting up a social media account or a website for the business
    • purchasing business cards or stationery for the business
    • obtaining business licences or insurance to operate (such as public liability and professional indemnity)
    • leasing or purchasing premises, equipment or stock for the business
    • issuing quotes or bidding for work.
    • consulting with financial, business or tax advisors
    • applying for finance
    • buying a business.

    While you don't need to have undertaken all of these start-up activities, you would be expected to have undertaken at least some of them.

    Employee or contractor?

    You're not entitled to an ABN for work that you carry out as an employee – including as an apprentice, trade assistant or labourer – even if you or your employer calls it contracting. An employer shouldn't ask you to get an ABN as a condition of employment. To find out more go to Employee or contractorExternal Link - ATO website.

    Renting out a residential property

    While renting out an investment property may constitute an enterprise, renting out a residential property doesn't generally give rise to GST or pay as you go withholding obligations, so residential property investors don't need an ABN.

    Foreign businesses operating in Australia

    If your business or organisation is located outside Australia, you may be entitled to an ABN if you are carrying on an enterprise:

    • in Australia, or
    • that involves making supplies connected with Australia's indirect tax zone – defined as including Australia but not its external territories or certain offshore areas.

    See also:

    Registering your superannuation entity to be a regulated super fund

    Before applying for an ABN, a superannuation entity (for example APRA regulated funds, ATO regulated self-managed super funds (SMSFs)) must be set up correctly.

    See also:

  • Last modified: 02 Aug 2018QC 332