ABR integrity

The Australian Business Register's (ABR) vision is to be the custodian of trusted business information and a world class provider of associated services used by business, governments and communities to unlock economic and social value for Australia.

We proactively assure the quality, accuracy and currency of the information on the ABR by cancelling inactive Australian business numbers (ABNs) and ensuring applicants are entitled to an ABN.

Cancelling inactive ABNs is an important part of ensuring the integrity of the ABR. The integrity of the register is important as business information is relied on by government agencies and the wider community.

For example, the information is used by emergency services and other government agencies during times of natural disaster and by the government to identify where financial disaster relief is needed to help businesses recover. Business data is also used by government agencies in assessing potential grants.

For more information on how ABR data is used see ABR data in use.

We have a program to check the ABN entitlement of businesses registered in certain industries and businesses that reapply for their ABN after it has previously been cancelled.

ABN cancellations and re-applications

Our bulk cancellation program aims to cancel ABNs when we're confident there is no longer an enterprise being carried out. To determine this we use information provided by the ABN holder on their tax return or other lodgments as well as other third party information.

Your ABN may be cancelled if:

  • the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) advise your company is deregistered
  • you advise that you have stopped business in your latest income tax return
  • you haven't reported business income
  • you lodge a final tax return.

Another indicator that a business is no longer operating is when they don't keep their lodgments up to date. To identify these businesses we work closely with the ATO.

If your ABN has been cancelled

If you don’t agree with our decision, you can either:

In some circumstances, an ABN application or reapplication may be refused. If your application is refused, you have the right to lodge an objection.

If your self-managed super fund ABN has been cancelled, you can phone the ATO on 13 10 20 to find out whether it can be reinstated or if you require a new ABN.

It is an offence to quote an ABN that is not your own, or to use your ABN when it has been cancelled.

ABN entitlement checks

How we select a business for review

We may contact new registrants in certain industries to confirm that they're operating a business and businesses that have re-applied for an ABN after we've either refused or cancelled it.

If an employer has asked you to get an ABN in order to work, it is highly likely you are not entitled to an ABN.

Find out more:

Employee or contractor

If your business is selected for review

You will be contacted and asked to provide information to confirm your entitlement to an ABN, which can vary from case to case.

We will ask for evidence that you either have or have started your enterprise. This would include evidence that you have undertaken some of the following activities:

  • advertising, setting up a social media account or a website for the business
  • purchasing business cards or stationery for the business
  • obtaining business licences or insurance to operate (such as public liability and professional indemnity)
  • leasing or purchasing premises, equipment or stock for the business
  • issuing quotes or bidding for work
  • consulting with financial, business or tax advisors
  • applying for finance
  • buying a business

You will be advised of the review outcome and your rights if you are not satisfied once completed.


Last modified
3 Jul 2020