Many business owners run more than one business. If this is the case, applying for multiple ABNs and business names can seem arduous. Thankfully, you don’t always have to do this.

The answer as it often is, is yes – but it depends. The short answer is that you can register two business names under the one ABN, as long as both businesses are the same structure type. However, there is more to the story. Read on to find out.

What is an ABN?

ABN stands for Australian business number, where your details are then saved under the Australian business register. 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 the business.

Multiple Businesses

It’s possible to have two or more businesses registered under the same ABN. However, you must make sure they are the same business structure type. If the business is a different structure then you will need to apply for a new ABN.

Example

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. Now Aaron will need to get a new ABN to register his new company. Aaron and Thomas will also need to register their business name ‘Neon Systems’ under the new ABN. They will also need a new Tax File Number (TFN) as they have become an incorporated entity.

Example

Claire owns a restaurant called ‘Modern Dining’. She is currently registered as a sole trader and has an ABN with that name registered under her ABN. She plans on opening a new restaurant in a neighbouring 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.

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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.

Example

Tracey wants to open a bookstore that also serves as a cafe. Tracey has decided that she will call her business ‘Tracey’s Cafe & Books’. In this case, Tracey still needs a registered business name.

Example

Francis Smith is opening a cafe and bookstore and he decides to call it Francis Smith. This is quite plain and will do little in helping him market his business. Despite this, he would not have to register a business name as he has used his legal name.

Conclusion

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 it’s different, then a new ABN is will be required.

Want further information? Contact a Lawpath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

Justin Pasqualino

Justin is a legal intern at LawPath as part of the content team. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics at UTS.