The Australian Business Register (ABR) receives around 80,000 ABN registrations applications a month. Around 91% of these applications result in registrations being issued on the spot, and the main reason ABNs are not issued for the others is a failure to establish the identity of the people behind the business.

The amount of monthly ABN registrations is high and we want to ensure they are being issued when there is an entitlement.

We have worked with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to pick a representative sample of around 1,400 recently issued ABNs so that we can review their ABN entitlement. These reviews will inform future focus areas to reduce the number of people applying for and receiving ABNs when they are not entitled.

The reviews will focus on ABNs issued for individuals, partnerships and trusts in August and October 2016. If you applied for an ABN for your client during this period, you may be contacted and required to provide evidence that your client is running a business or taken steps to start a business.


The Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, announced an implementation study will be undertaken on the ‘single business identifier’.

This measure was announced in the 2015-16 Budget’s Growing Jobs and Small Business Package, for Australian Company Numbers (ACNs) and Business Tax File Numbers (BFTNs) to be replaced with just the Australian Business Number (ABN).

The single business identifier is expected to deliver benefits to newly registered businesses, particularly incorporated small businesses, by reducing the need to use multiple identifiers with government.

New companies will be issued with a single numerical identifier, an ABN, as part of their company registration process. A company will be registered for ABN purposes at the same time it is registered as a company under the Corporations Act.

A new registration portal will be established by ASIC to accept multiple registrations for small business similar to the existing ABR portal.

The Government has undertaken consultation on the development of this policy, however recent consultations have highlighted that many subsidiary systems (outside of the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission which are implementing the measure) are reliant on current identifiers and additional time is required to adjust systems, business processes, and forms.

The Government wants to make sure the implementation is right because we understand consolidating business identifiers will be a significant change. The implementation study will examine government and private sector impacts from the measure and will be finalised in mid 2016.

We will advise of the changes when ASIC is ready to implement them and ensure that the transition will be seamless to our clients.