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:
- ensuring applicants are entitled to an Australian business number (ABN)
- cancelling inactive Australian business numbers (ABNs).
Cancelling inactive ABNs is an important part of ensuring the integrity of the ABR. The integrity of the register is important as government agencies and the wider community rely on this business information.
For example, emergency services and government agencies use ABR information during times of natural disaster 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 see ABR data in use.
We have a program to check the ABN entitlement of registered businesses and businesses that reapply for their ABN after it has been cancelled.
ABN cancellations and re-applications
Our 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 on your tax return, other lodgments, and 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
- your lodgments aren't up to date, indicating that the business is no longer operating.
If we identify your ABN for cancellation, we may contact you with actions you need to take if you don’t want your ABN cancelled.
This may include using our automated service (secure voice response system) to confirm that your ABN is still in use. We will tell you how to use the service in our communication.
We will never ask for your confidential details in our communications. For how and why we may contact you, check our communications.
If we contact you and you’re no longer in business, you don’t need to do anything. We will cancel your ABN.
If your ABN has been cancelled
If you don’t agree with our decision to cancel your ABN, you can either:
In some circumstances, we may refuse an ABN application or reapplication. 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 you if:
- there are indicators on your tax return, other lodgments, or other third-party information that you are no longer operating a business
- you’ve 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’re not entitled to an ABN.
Find out more at Employee or contractor
If your business is selected for review
We will contact you and ask you to provide information to confirm your entitlement to an ABN, which can vary from case to case.
We will ask for evidence that you’re either in business or have started your enterprise. This would include evidence that you have undertaken some of the following activities:
- advertising, and 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’re not satisfied once completed.