Small Business
What is an ACN (Australian Company Number)?
Here’s what you need to know about ACNs

What does ACN stand for?

When discussing business in Australia, ACN stands for Australian Company Number.

What is an ACN?

Issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), an ACN is a nine-digit number assigned to a company after it is registered with AISC. Much like an Australian Business Number, each unique ACN makes it easier to identify a company, especially when other businesses operating within Australia share a similar name. The numbers also allow ASIC to monitor the business activities carried out by each company.

ACNs differ from ABNs in that they are only issued if a company is registered with ASIC. Some types of businesses, including sole traders and partnerships, are not eligible to register as a company or receive an ACN. 

If your company is issued with an ACN, it will need to appear on all ‘eligible negotiable instruments’ and ‘public documents’ that your company produces. This includes all documents that you lodge with ASIC, the invoices and receipts you issue, business letterheads, printed advertisements, statements of accounts, purchase orders and more.

How to register an ACN in Australia

To receive an ACN, you’ll first need to register your business as a company. There are several ways that this can be done. You may choose to register your company online through the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service (BRS), contact a private service provider to register your company on your behalf or submit a paper application.

Applying online

If you choose to register your business online through the BRS website, you will need to select the type of registration your business is applying for (Australian Company and Company Name) and follow the prompts. The online form will ask you to supply information about your business, such as your proposed company name, company structure and other relevant details. You can create an online account on the BRS website, allowing you to complete your application over several days or weeks. Applications must be submitted within 28 days.

Applying through a private service provider

You can also opt to have a private service provider register your company. Private service providers commonly include accountants, solicitors and other businesses. This may be a good option if you’d like professional guidance throughout the application process. Private service providers are likely to charge their own fees in addition to the standard fees charged by ASIC for registering a company and issuing an ACN.

Applying with a paper application

If you’d rather submit a paper application or have difficulty registering your company online, you can contact ASIC to request a paper form.

Regardless of which submission method you choose, you will need to pay a fee to register your business as a company. The fee does vary from year to year, so it is always best to check the ASIC website for the latest information.

How long does it take to get an ACN?

Once you have registered your company with ASIC, your company will be assigned an ACN. If you have undertaken the ACN registration process online, an ACN is typically confirmed shortly after your submission is made. If your submission requires manual review or you are choosing to submit a paper application, the process may take longer.

Following ACN registration, it’s important to your company comply with its obligations which include keeping your company’s details held by ASIC up to date, lodging the required forms, and t displaying the ACN on documents published by your company, amongst other things

Do I need an ACN as a sole trader?

As a sole trader, is not likely to be eligible to register for an ACN as they are only issued to companies. If you currently run a business as a sole trader or plan to do so in the future, you may need to apply for an ABN. Ready to embark on your own small business journey? Looking for more great tips and tricks? Stop by our small business blog to find more handy guides.

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