A User’s Guide to the Australian Business Register (ABR)
Our guide to the Australian Business Register (ABR): an online tool where you can access the basic information of any registered Australian Business.
When starting any new business in Australia, it must first be registered in the Australian Business Register (ABR). Though, regardless of whether you are starting a business or are already running one, it is likely that you’ve come across this term. The ABR is a strong tool for the Government to ensure organisation and compliance amongst Australian businesses. For a business to be legally recognised in Australia, it must appear within the ABR.
Likewise, it allows businesses to easily identify and access information on other businesses. Overall it serves to maintain a level of integrity amongst Australian businesses, allowing for more confident business dealings and a general goal of equal opportunity.
What is the ABR?
Put simply, the ABR is a database containing all the information of every registered business in Australia. This information will include public information, like:
- The Australian Business Number (ABN), which identifies the business, and the date it’s of registration.
- The entities legal, trading and registered business name.
- The entities type; as a sole trader, partnership, company, trust etc.
- State and postcode of the main business address.
Furthermore, there may be situation-specific information publically available. For example, the business’s charity status in the case of a non-profit. Any individual can look up a business in the ABR and access this information instantly.
Likewise, there is non-public information available only to the ABN holder, your registered tax agent and eligible government agencies (though their access may be limited). This information is more specific, like the businesses full address, phone numbers and authorised contacts. Though what kind of information is accessible depends on the agency and situation.
The benefits of the ABR
The ABR, first and foremost, is a tool for the Australian Government to track businesses within Australia. Through it, the Government is able to ensure tax compliance and monitor the Australian business landscape for logistical purposes. As a general principle, the ABR is designed to promote a sense of integrity amongst Australian businesses. Where this kind of information is easily available, recognising and combating scams has become easier. Likewise, it has reduced the number of duplicate or redundant government files, as ABN’s have largely streamlined government’s capacity to track the most recent/relevant business documents.
Further, through this data, the government is able to easily adjust policy and implement legislation that will best support the economy and its growth. Particularly amongst local governments, the statistical value in understanding market localisation and trends is immensely valuable to supporting small businesses.
Additionally, the ABR has proven extremely useful in cases of disaster relief. Particularly with identifying affected businesses within affected areas, particularly those with potentially hazardous materials, and allocating appropriate resources to such. The Government website provides some examples of actual situations where this has occurred.
The most common use of the ABR by businesses is when performing identity checks on potential business ventures. Continuing on the notion of integrity, the ABR allows businesses to easily ensure that whoever they’re dealing with is an actual, legally recognised, Australian business.
Likewise, it allows businesses to validate each other’s financial reports. Indeed, as ABNs are used by other agencies like the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, financial reports are easily traced where further validation is required. Hence, it acts as a further mechanism for honest financial reporting practices.
Further, the ABR is a tool for simplifying many of the processes of starting and running a business. For example, the ABR will automatically populate invoices with data from another business via an ABN.
Accessing the ABR
Accessing the ABR is widely available to the public, though it is limited to the aforementioned publically available information. It only requires the ABN, Australian Company Number (ACN) or business name.
To access non-public information your agency/business must be authorised. This includes being provided with an AusKey, and several other steps. The ABR government website outlines the complete process.
Ultimately, the ABR serves as an important tool to the Australian government and public in ensuring the integrity of Australian business. Beyond streamlining many of the day-to-day processes of Australian business, it also serves as an important logistical tool for government assessments. If you’re looking to start a business, or just have any inquiries regarding your business’s ABN, contact a Lawpath lawyer here.
Daniel is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Business at the University of Technology Sydney. His principal fields of interest are in commercial, corporate and intellectual property law.