Many business owners run more than one business. Similarly, it’s also common to run one business with different branches or offerings. If this is the case, applying for multiple Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) and business names can be arduous and costly. However, this isn’t always necessary. You can register two business names under one ABN, as long as both businesses are in the same structure. In this article, we’ll explain whether you can register two business names under your ABN and the processes involved.
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What is an Australian Business Number (ABN)?
ABN stands for Australian Business Number. This number is a unique number that is allocated to every legally registered business in Australia.
Sole traders, partnerships, and companies all have ABNs. Further, there are many business activities you need an ABN to conduct, including issuing B2B invoices, registering for GST, and starting a .com.au website. You can apply for an ABN easily online by filling in your personal details. Your ABN will be directly connected to your legal name if you are a sole trader or partnership and you will be taxed on your personal income. Your ABN will also link to your company name and number if you register a company, and corporate tax rates will apply.
Once your application is processed, your ABN can be searched under the ABN Lookup. As a result, certain details are publicly available such as your business structure, name, and the location of your business.
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It is possible to have two or more businesses registered under the same ABN. However, you must make sure they have the same business structure. If the business is a different structure then you will need to apply for a new ABN.
Aaron and Thomas are thinking of starting a private company. They plan to call it Neon Systems. They will be developing and repairing high-tech electronic goods. Aaron already has an ABN and has a sole trader business where he operates as a consultant. However, Aaron and Thomas will need to apply for a separate ACN to run Neon Systems as a company. They can register additional business names if they want to trade under different names.
Claire owns a restaurant called ‘Modern Dining’. She is currently registered as a sole trader and has an ABN with that business name registered under her ABN. She plans on opening a new restaurant in a neighboring suburb so she can expand. Her new business will also be a sole trader structure run by her. She has decided to call it ‘Classic Dining’. This new name and business can all be registered under the same ABN. She can also use the same TFN as a sole trader as she uses personally. If she decides to incorporate her restaurants, she can also use multiple business names by registering them under her company name.
Registering Two Business Names
Assuming then that there is the same business structure for the multiple businesses under one ABN, then it is possible to have multiple names registered as well. Business name registration is maintained through ASIC. You should distinguish whether your business name is a registered business name or if it is just your legal name.
Tracey Shen wants to open a bookstore that also serves as a cafe under an ABN. Tracey has decided that she will call her business ‘Tracey’s Cafe & Books’. In this case, Tracey still needs a registered business name. Her official name under her ABN will be Tracey Shen.
Francis Smith is opening a cafe and bookstore and he decides to call it Francis Smith. Francis will not have to register a business name as he is trading under his legal name. If Francis opens his business as a partnership with his friend, Jane Lou, their legal name will be Smith, F. & Lou, J. They will need to register a business name if they wish to trade under any other name.
It all depends on what type of business you are looking to start. If it will be the same structure then you can use the same ABN. However, if your businesses will be operating under different structures, then a new ABN will be required.
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