An Australian Business Number (ABN) is one of the most important labels that a business will have to their name, as almost every legal and business engagement requires a form of identification

If you have previously cancelled an ABN or shut down your business and wish to start things up again, then you will likely need to go through the process of doing all the relevant legal applications again. In other words, you’d need to reinstate your ABN. 

We’ll walk you through some important details – keep reading to find out more. 

What Is An ABN?

An ABN is an Australian Business Number. ABN’s have 11 digits and each ABN is unique.

Every business operating in Australia will need an ABN as this is what is used to identify your business particularly when undertaking important tasks, such as filing for taxes. It’s relatively simple to acquire an ABN – it can be done online by providing all the relevant details and paying a fee. 

Can I Cancel My ABN?

Yes, an ABN can be cancelled. If you have sold your business or stopped all trading, the Australian Business Register (ABR) needs to be informed of this. 

ABN cancellation is done the same way it’s applied for (online). If you’re considering cancelling your ABN, it’s important to make sure you’ve got all your affairs in order first. This means ensuring: 

  • Any recent tax obligations have been met
  • Important documents have been lodged
  • Any fines and fees that are outstanding should be paid 
  • All your reporting duties have also been met 

How To Reinstate An ABN

Applying and reapplying for an ABN are essentially the same process. Once an ABN has been cancelled, getting another ABN means going through the same process as applying for a new one. 

Once you have cancelled your ABN, it’s not possible to get the exact same number back, so you’ll have to submit a new application

Can I Have More Than One ABN?

A business can only have one ABN. However, if you are an individual operating more than one business, then each business will need an ABN of their own. 

If you simply need to update your business activities, then you can always bring your current ABN up to speed as opposed to getting a new one. To check the current status of your ABN, use the ABN Lookup Tool

Example
Harry operates as a hairstylist from his own hair salon. He has always been the sole owner and operator of his business. Recently, Harry has decided to move onto additional business endeavours by selling his own line of hair care products. 

In order to do this, Harry doesn’t necessarily need to attain a brand new ABN, but rather, update the classifications on his current one. 

Do I Need An ACN As Well?

If you are operating a company, then the answer is yes. You’ll need both an ABN and an Australian Company Number (ACN). Businesses that are operating as sole traders do not need an ACN, however, businesses that are under a company structure will need to attain an ACN. 

An ACN can also be applied for online. Much like an ABN, it requires filling out the application form, providing relevant details where necessary and paying a fee.

Your company’s ACN will be one of the most important aspects in making sure it is legally identifiable, so if you are starting a company- be sure to be on top of this. 

Deregistering A Company

A company can be deregistered either voluntarily or involuntarily. 

When a company is deregistered involuntarily, it has likely been shut down through a court order. 

Voluntary deregistration of a company however, needs to adhere to a particular process.This includes: 

  • Having the consent of all members of the company to deregister
  • Ensuring all taxes, annual reviews and fees have been paid (make sure deregistration is done at least two weeks before annual review fees are due)
  • Ceasing business operations 
  • Shutting down company accounts and make sure all assets under the company’s name have been dealt with
  • Complete an application via the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to deregister the company 

Once a company has been deregistered, it can be reinstated under certain conditions. Generally, these involve: 

  • Incomplete litigation that requires the company to be reinstated
  • Proving a mistake was made (if the deregistration was involuntary) in the deregistration of the company 
  • For companies that were voluntarily deregistered, a former director, secretary or member of the company must prove why the deregistration of the company was a mistake.  They will also need to show the company will be able to function appropriately at the time of reinstatement   

Do I Need To Register My Business Again?

If you have deregistered your business, then yes, you will need to register your business again. 

Likewise, when taking your business down, you may have sold or taken away your business name – you will need to go through this process again as well. The former name may have been taken so you might need to find a new or different one. 

Essentially, if you decide to take down a business, reinstating that business will require applying for a new ABN, business name and anything else relevant to the business such as tax declarations.  

Key Takeaways

Reinstating a former business means reapplying for an ABN and getting your business registered again through the appropriate mediums. If you have any questions, it’s always good to talk to a legal professional and get the correct guidance. 

To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • To reinstate an ABN, you must reapply for one using the same process you would to get a new one
  • If you are a company, then you will likely also need an ACN
  • If your shutting down a business, it’s important to inform the ABR
  • Deregistering a company involves a process which includes filling out a form with ASIC and shutting down all company accounts
  • A deregistered company can at times, be reinstated again 
  • Make sure your current ABN is updated to include all your business practices 

If you would like a consultation on reinstating an ABN, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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