Getting an ABN – then what?

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Last updated Dec 16, 2019

Getting an ABN

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.

An ABN doesn’t replace your tax file number although having this handy will speed up the application process.

Getting an ABN is a free and relatively easy process. Here’s the Australian Government’s website to get you started.

You can either apply for the ABN first, then the Business Name, or you can do it at the same time. Business Names are registered with ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, and cost about $35/year.  We recommend you do it at the same time.

This website is the handy ABN lookup – great if you want to look up  your own ABN to check its in the system but also good for looking up a client ABN’s when you need to.

You’ll need to make a couple of decisions during the business name registration process, the three most notable ones being:

  1. Are you a hobby or a business
  2. Are you a sole trader or partnership
  3. Are you registering for GST

Hobby or Business

Ensure you understand the difference between a hobby and a business for tax, insurance and legal purposes.

Sole Trader or Partnership

As the name implies, sole trader is a business with one person at the helm where-as a partnership involves more than one person.


You must be registered for GST if the annual income turnover is $75,000 or more. As this is unlikely to apply to small businesses in their start-up phase, you can skip this for now.

If you’re not registered for GST, you add a note onto your invoices along the lines of:
This business is not registered for GST with the Australian Tax Office and therefore no GST applies to this payment.

Getting an ABN – then what?

Getting an ABN is the first cab of the rank – but there’s three more items you need so secure on the same day.

  1. Business Name
  2. Domain Name
  3. Facebook Page

Even if you don’t intend to build your website anytime soon or activate your Facebook page straight away, securing these names is an important marketing consideration for your start-up.

Business Name

The business name is important for legal reasons but it’s also important for marketing purposes.

Think about what people will remember or what they might search for in google. If you have a business name called ABC Consultancy it doesn’t really say much about what you do and it’s unlikely to be something people search for in google. Whereas if you have the business name Adelaide Plumbers, people may remember it, and even better, they’re likely to google it.

If you’re stuck for ideas, try these two online tools to help you.

  1. Namelix Business Name Generator (be sure to try the options of multiple words and rhyming words)
  2. Oberlo Business Name Generator

Domain Name

Even if you’re not ready for a website quite yet, secure the domain name.

For example, if you are successful in securing the business name Fleurieu Bikes only to find out the web address for that name is taken it will damage your ability to successfully market online. A domain name costs about $20/year. Well worth securing and holding onto for when you are ready to get a website up and running.

To get a “.au” domain name you need an ABN.

If you wish to have a .com only domain name (without the “.au”) you don’t need an ABN.  However a “.au” domain name is recommended as Australian’s tend to intuitively trust it more than a .com only.

Business Facebook Page

Like the domain name, you want your business Facebook Page name to match your business name. You can change the name later on.  The sweet spot to change a Facebook page name is between 25-200 likes. But best to secure this one at the same time as getting an ABN and business name sorted.

When you are ready to create your Business Facebook page, check out our Facebook Business Page Templates info.


Trademark’s are the expensive part of the process and most starts-ups will shy away from the cost.

Never-the-less protecting your business name can be an important step.  Not infringing on someone else’s trademark is also an important consideration.  You can check out who’s got what trademark here.

You can always apply for a trademark later on when you feel your business can afford it and has signs of succeeding.

Further Reading and Resources

Australian Government Business Info – Starting a Business

The Australian government has a business phone help line from 8am – 8pm across Australia, Monday to Friday. Phone 13 28 46

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