Yes, it is very possible to have two or more businesses registered under the same ABN. However, you are expected to make sure they are of the same business structure. If the business is a different structure then you will need to apply for a new ABN.

What is an ABN?

ABN stands for Australian Business Number. This number is a unique number which is given to every legally registered business in Australia. Sole traders, partnerships and companies all have ABNS. There are so many business activities you need an ABN to conduct including issuing B2B invoices and registering for GST and Payroll Tax.

Also note that you can apply for an ABN easily online by filling in your personal details. Your ABN will be directly connected to your legal name if you are a sole trader or partnership and you will be taxed on your personal income. Your ABN will link to your company name if you register a company, and corporate tax rates will apply.

Once your application is processed, your ABN can be searched under the ABN Lookup. As a result, certain details are publicly available such as your business structure, name and the location of your business. But assuming that there is the same business structure for the multiple businesses under one ABN, then it is possible to have multiple names registered as well. Business name registration is maintained through ASIC. You should distinguish whether your business name is a registered business name or if it is just your legal name.

After you start a new business, it is always advisable to make sure that your company is compliant with business regulations before you start trading. There are various crucial elements associated with registering a business in Australia, including the identification of a business structure, registering a company name, and getting a Tax File Number (TFN). However, getting an Australian Business Number (ABN) is also crucial.

Factors to Consider Before you Apply for ABN in Australia

When you are planning to apply for ABN, it is advisable you take your time to consider the list below before you begin your application process. You will be asked the following questions or required to provide the following information:

  1. Do you already have an ABN?

Do you already have, or have you previously had an ABN for the entity you are applying for? You’ll need to provide it if so. If you are not so sure, use the provided services to check.

  1. What is the name of your Business?

Note that this is the legal name of your business or entity and is the name that appears on all your official business documents or legal papers. This is not a registration for a business name – that still needs to be done separately. If you are an individual and you don’t have a business name, use your own name.

  1. What are your Contact Details?

This is the authorised contact that is expected to be able to deal with any issues relating to your business’s ABN. This person is expected to also be able to make changes or updates on your behalf. This person could be you, or someone you chose to act on your behalf. You need to provide the following details of the authorised contact:

  • Name
  • Position held
  • Mobile, phone and fax numbers
  • Email address.
  1. What is your Tax File Number?

Note that the easiest way to get your ABN online is by providing your tax file number (TFN) and the TFN of any of your business associates. If you or your associates are Australian residents (over 18) and you don’t provide all relevant TFNs, you may not get your ABN immediately.

  1. Do you use the Services of a Tax Agent?

If you are using the expertise of a tax agent, you can provide their registration number. This can be found on an income tax return. Recording your tax agent’s number against your ABN simply entails they can deal with the ATO on your behalf.

  1. Do you have an Australian Company Number or an Australian Registered Body Number?

Have it in mind that any company or registrable Australian body is expected to register with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) before they apply for an ABN. Once registered, ASIC will issue you with an Australian Company Number (CAN) or an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN).

 What is the Main Activity of your Business?

Your main business activity is more or less (but not always) the activity that is the main source of income for your business or organisation. If you operate from multiple locations, you will be asked for the primary business activity at each of the locations you operate.

 What is the Date you need your ABN by?

Your Australian Business Number will not be issued until the date you specify. This should be the date when you intend to begin your business or enterprise.

  1. What are your Business Locations?

Also, these are the permanent physical premises operated by your business. For each location you will be asked for the:

  • Street address
  • Business activity details
  • Phone and email contacts.
  1. What are your Business Associates’ Details?

If you have business associates, their details are expected to be provided with your ABN application. Your associates may be individuals or organisations depending on your entity type. For each associate you will have to provide:

For Individuals

  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Position held
  • Tax file number (TFN)
  • Residential address (if no TFN is provided).

For Organisations

  • Australian Company Number (CAN) or an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN) – if applicable
  • ABN – if applicable
  • TFN (or address)
  • Date of formation (if TFN not provided).
  1. Are you Providing us with the Correct Information?

Note that before submitting your application, you need to complete a declaration stating that the information you have provided is true and correct.

Conclusion

You can register two business names under the one ABN, as long as both businesses are the same structure type. Assuming then that there is the same business structure for the multiple businesses under one ABN, then it is possible to have multiple names registered as well.

Business name registration is maintained through ASIC. You should distinguish whether your business name is a registered business name or if it is just your legal name. Also note that the Australian Business Register (ABR) maintains the information available through ABN Lookup and is responsible for all aspects of the ABN registration.

As ABN Lookup does not have access to registration details please contact the ABR for all enquiries regarding the progress of your application. Only when an ABN has been issued by the ABR will the public details about the ABN be available on ABN Lookup.

Ajaero Tony Martins