Unique Australian Businesses – Guide

An Australian business number, otherwise known as an ABN, is a very vital element of any business in Australia especially those looking to transact with the government or local authorities. It is a unique number given out by the Australian tax office which allows the business in question to reclaim the tax element from goods acquired for resale.

The format of an ABN number

An ABN number is an 11 digit number which is simply two check digits placed before a company’s Australian tax office number. However, for those who are self-employed a unique ABN number will be created by the tax authorities which should be used on all stationary and all invoices.

No ABN number means no tax breaks

In simple terms if you do not quote your ABN number on your invoices, vital when trading with the government, the buyer is obliged to hold back as much as 46.5% of the purchase cost and pay this directly to the Australian tax office. As you can see, if you have regular dealings with the Australian authorities you need to ensure you have an ABN and it is quoted on all of your invoices and correspondence.

The goods and services tax

Back in July 2000 John Howard’s government introduced a number of changes to the tax system which resulted in the creation of a goods and services tax. In simple terms, the goods and services tax element of any goods sold is the amount which the parties involved can reclaim using the ABN number. So your Australian business number and the goods and services tax walk hand in hand in the Australian system.

Public disclosure of ABN

There is an official and very public ABN register administered by the Australian authorities which holds the name of all parties in Australia, whether companies or self-employed individuals, who have applied successfully for ABN numbers. The register also holds fairly basic information on each of these individual parties which is also available to the public.

Running a business in Australia

The Australian business numbers program is just one element of the overall business arena you need to fully understand if you’re looking to trade in Australia. Moving from your former homeland to Australia and assuming you’re moving to a like for like situation can be very dangerous and potentially very expensive. You need to do your homework, take professional advice and ensure that you abide by all the laws and regulations of the land and do not place yourself in potentially difficult and damaging situations in the future.


If you’re looking to trade in Australia then an Australian business number is something that you should consider, especially when you bear in mind the ever growing influence of the local authorities and the government in the business arena. The growth of the Australian economy has seen a growth in the public sector which has seen more and more businesses transacting with local authorities. The tax incentives for obtaining an ABN number are huge as are the potential downfalls if you fail to do so!