New business owners continue to get confused over the difference between an Australian Business Number (ABN) and an Australian Company Number (ACN).
The two unique identification numbers are actually issued by separate Government bodies. The Australian Company Number (ACN) is issued by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) when new companies are formed, and is clearly identifiable by its unique nine-digit layout. As well as helping to monitor the money that passes through companies from the perspective of the ASIC, the ACN also offers a number of trading benefits for the company itself.
The Australian Business number (ABN) is issued to all business entities by the Australian Tax Office (ATO). The ABN has eleven unique digits and can be used to verify information about the business that it is registered to. Any communications with government agencies will also be made easier and business bank accounts can be opened once an ABN has been secured.
Once an ABN or ACN has been issued, companies and businesses are required to add it to any documentation used for trading. This might include invoices, letterheads, receipts, promissory notes and order forms. Where the nine digits of an ACN are used sequentially within the eleven digits of an ABN, a company can use the ABN as an alternative to the ACN on all type of business documentation.
ABN and ACN Key Points
Despite their similarities, the ABN and ACN are intrinsically different. ABN is an acronym of Australian Business number while ACN is used as an acronym of Australian Company Number. An ABN can be issued to all business types including sole trader and partnership registrations, but an ACN can only be assigned to a business that registers as a company.
An ACN is issued by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) when a business completes a company registration. The Australian Tax Office is responsible for the issue of an ABN
An ACN is easily identified as a unique nine-digit number whereas an ABN can be recognised as a unique eleven-digit number. A company can use an ABN in place of an ACN so long as the ABN contains the nine digits of the ACN in sequential order.
The ACN is more widely used to identify the company as a business entity through the exclusive nine-digit number and helps that company to trade more effectively. The ABN also carries key trading benefits but it also serves to highlight and verify the credibility of a business operation. This not only makes the ABN valuable to the business that it relates to but also provides fringe benefits for consumers and other organisations who might want to carry out transactions with that particular business.
Once a company has been issued with an ACN through the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), they are under no further obligation to obtain an additional ABN. The ACN will suffice for all trading purposes. However, due to the various benefits of having an ABN, most Australian companies secure an ABN.
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