Lawpath Blog
How to Find Your ABN (2021 Update)

How to Find Your ABN (2021 Update)

Your ABN is your business's key identifier. But what happens if you misplace it? Read our guide to find out how you can relocate your ABN.

15th April 2021
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Your ABN is your business’s key identifier and you’ll need to have it on hand on many occasions. There are times however, when you might not be able to find it. In this guide, we’ll explain how you can relocate your ABN in the event that you misplace it.

Key points

  • All registered businesses in Australia need an ABN
  • You can find your ABN online by searching for your business’s name on the ABN lookup
  • You can also find your ABN on many common business documents and tax invoices

Australian Business Numbers (ABNs)

Your ABN is as important as your name when running a business. An Australian Business Number (ABN) is an 11-digit registration number used to identify businesses. Your ABN is allocated by the ATO and is usually included on all official documents. Whether you run your business as a sole trader, partnership or company, all of these business types need to have an ABN to operate legally.

The importance of your ABN

You are required to provide your ABN on invoices and other documents you issue to customers. Further, ABNs are required for commercial activities such as registering a business name, registering an Australian domain, or obtaining a trademark. Further, you will need to have an ABN to register for GST and PAYG Withholding.

You can also use your ABN as the key identifying number for multiple entities which trade under different names. Further, tax credits are available to ABN holders.

How you can locate your ABN

ABN Lookup

ABN Lookup is a free tool provided by the Australian Business Register. This allows you to find the ABNs of all registered businesses. The ABN lookup should be your first port of call if you want to find out your ABN. To find your ABN, all you have to do is search your business’s name. You can also search all publicly available information on your business. You can search by your business’s name, ABN, or ACN.

What if my ABN doesn’t appear on ABN Lookup?

When you activate your ABN, you should be able to find it on the ABN Lookup on the same day. If your ABN does not show up, you should contact the ABN Lookup. Your ABN can then be retrieved from the ABR and manually updated.

What if I don’t display my ABN properly?

Penalties apply if you fail to display your ABN on formal documents. For your customers, the ATO can take a portion of the payment which is to be made to you as tax.

Reapplying

One thing to consider if your ABN doesn’t show up on Lookup may be that your ABN has been cancelled. This happens when the ABR ‘clears out’ unused ABNs. It is possible to reactivate a cancelled ABN by re-submitting an online application. You will likely receive a new ABN if your business structure has changed. However, normally upon re-application your prior ABN should become active again.

For a comprehensive guide on how to reactivate your ABN, check out this guide.

Other places to check

Perhaps you have just momentarily misplaced your ABN or can’t remember it off the top of your head. There are many business documents which will contain your ABN. Some common documents that usually list your ABN are:

  • Letterheads – you must display your ABN on your letterhead.
  • Tax Invoices: Strict requirements under the GST system require the supplier’s ABN amongst other information on invoices issued for $1000 or more.

Conclusion

An ABN is essential to running your business and should be regularly updated to ensure it does not get deactivated or cancelled. It is an important step to legitimise your business by registering an ABN or in some cases, to re-apply for one.

Don’t know where to start?
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.

Author
Tom Willis