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How to Update Your ABN in Australia


Published: April 10, 2024

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) to businesses operating in Australia. It's essential for various purposes, including tax and government regulations. In this article, we will discuss how to update your ABN, the reasons for updating it, and other important information related to ABNs.

Purpose of an ABN

An ABN is used for:

  • Identifying your business to the government and other businesses
  • Avoiding pay-as-you-go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive for your goods and services
  • Claiming Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits
  • Registering for GST
  • Obtaining an Australian domain name

Who Needs an ABN?

You need an ABN if you are carrying on or starting a business in Australia, including if you are:

  • A sole trader
  • In a partnership
  • A company
  • A trust
  • Running a non-profit organization

How an ABN Relates to Your Business Name

Your ABN is different from your business name. An ABN is a unique identifier for your business, while your business name is the name under which you trade. You must register your business name with the Business Names Register, which is separate from the ABR. If you are a company, your company name is registered with the Company Name Register, which is maintained by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

What Is the Australian Business Register?

The Australian Business Register (ABR) is a comprehensive database of information provided by businesses when they register for an ABN. The ABR is maintained by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and is used by government agencies and businesses to verify the identity and status of other businesses they deal with.

Reasons for Updating Your ABN

You must update your ABN details within 28 days of any changes to your business, including:

  • Business name or trading name
  • Address (business or postal)
  • Contact details
  • Associates (e.g., directors, partners, trustees)
  • Main business activity
  • GST registration status

Legal Requirement to Update Your ABN

It is a legal requirement to keep your ABN details up to date. Failure to do so may result in penalties and the cancellation of your ABN.

How to Update Your ABN

To update your ABN, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Australian Business Register (ABR) using your ABN and AUSkey or myGovID.
  2. Select "Update ABN details" from the menu.
  3. Update the necessary information, such as business activities, address, or contact details.
  4. Review and submit the changes.

Adding Business Activities

You can add or remove business activities when updating your ABN. This is important to ensure that your ABN reflects your current business operations.

Updating Your Address

When updating your address, ensure that you provide accurate and current information for both your business and postal addresses.

How Long Does It Take to Update Your ABN?

Updates to your ABN are usually processed immediately. However, some changes, such as adding or removing associates, may take up to 28 days to be reflected in the public ABN register.

What You Can't Update

You cannot update the following details:

  • ABN (you must cancel your ABN and apply for a new one if needed)
  • Entity type (e.g., changing from a sole trader to a company)

Who Is Allowed to Update an ABN?

Only the following people can update an ABN:

  • The entity's authorized representative (e.g., the sole trader, a partner, a director, or a trustee)
  • An authorized contact person
  • A registered tax agent or BAS agent

What to Do If Someone Has Updated Your ABN Without Consent

If you believe someone has updated your ABN without your consent, contact the ABR immediately. They will investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

What to Do If You Are No Longer Using Your ABN

If you are no longer using your ABN, you must cancel it within 28 days. To cancel your ABN, log in to the ABR and select "Cancel registration/ABN" from the menu.

Keeping your ABN details up to date is crucial for maintaining compliance with Australian business regulations. By understanding the purpose of an ABN, who needs one, and how to update it, you can ensure that your business remains in good standing with the government and other stakeholders. Remember to also keep your business name registered with the appropriate register (Business Names Register or Company Name Register) to ensure full compliance.

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