ABN, ACN and ARBN

Australian Business Number (ABN)

The following applies to Real Property Act land, Water Access Licences and the General Register.

All businesses, including companies, partnerships, traders etc, in Australia may apply for an ABN issued by the Australian Taxation Office for taxation purposes.  The ABN does not confer corporate status and is not required to be stated on a dealing.

A company may use their ABN number in lieu of the ACN on a dealing or document providing the ABN includes the ACN as the last 9 digits of the 11 digit number.

Dealings and documents executed:

  • before 1.7.2003 must show the ACN in the company seal.  The ABN is not acceptable in lieu and
  • on or after 1.7.2003 must show either the ACN or ABN in the company seal.

Australian Company Number (ACN)

The following applies to Torrens Title land, Water Access Licences and the General Register of Deeds.

Under the Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth) all Australian companies have a nine digit ACN issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).  The ACN is used to ensure adequate identification of the company when transacting business.

A dealing or document drawn in the name of an Australian company, including building societies, credit unions and friendly societies, and except for those listed below, must state the ACN directly after the company name where it first appears on the dealing or document.  The ACN is not required to be stated again after the first instance.

The ACN must appear in the company seal.

Note

  • the 11 digit ABN is acceptable in lieu of the ACN for a company.  Note The ABN may appear in a company seal in lieu of the ACN providing the dealing or document was executed on or after 1.7.2003.
  • a company registered in Australia may be known as "Australian Company Number [the companys ACN] Limited".

ACN exceptions

An ACN is not required for:

  • Aboriginal corporations
  • Area Health Services
  • the Association of a Community Title scheme
  • charitable or religious bodies
  • co-operatives
  • co-operative housing societies
  • incorporated associations
  • the Owners Corporation of a Strata scheme
  • Reserve Trusts as defined by s92 Crown Lands Act 1989
  • solicitor corporations
  • Starr-Bowkett Societies
  • State owned corporations
  • statutory authorities
  • statutory health corporations

Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN)

The following applies to Torrens Title land, Water Access Licences and the General Register of Deeds.

Under the Corporations Act 2001 (Commonwealth) a registrable Australian body, ie:

  • a body corporate that is not a company
  • certain unincorporated bodies or
  • an association (not incorporated) registered under a State law that is not recognised by other States,

that wishes to:

  • deal with land or a Water Access Licence within New South Wales and/or
  • carry on business outside the State of its origin,

must be registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).  A 9 digit ARBN is issued to the body.

A dealing or document drawn in the name of a registered Australian body, except for those listed below, must state the ARBN directly after the body's name where it first appears on the dealing or document.  The ARBN is not required to be stated again after the first instance. 

Note  Westpac Banking Corporation has corporate status but has retained its original ARBN.

The ARBN does not have to appear in the seal of the registered body.

A foreign company must be registered with ASIC to carry on certain business in Australia and is issued with an ARBN, but is not required to be registered in order to deal with land or a Water Access Licence.  For a dealing or document involving a foreign company, the ARBN must be stated or a statutory declaration or letter by an officer of the company is required stating that the company:

  • is a foreign company
  • is not a registered foreign company
  • does not have an ARBN and
  • does not carry on business in Australia.

ARBN exceptions

An ARBN is not required for:

  • Aboriginal Associations and corporations
  • Area Health Services
  • the Association of a Community Title scheme
  • charitable or religious bodies
  • co-operative housing societies
  • incorporated associations
  • the Owners Corporation of a Strata scheme
  • Reserve Trusts as defined by s92 Crown Lands Act 1989
  • solicitor corporations
  • State owned corporations
  • statutory authorities or
  • statutory health corporations.

A statutory declaration explaining the absence of an ARBN is required in all other cases.

Staff processing information

If required, check corporate status with ASIC website National Names Index www.search.asic.gov.au/gns001.html or refer to Legal through the Senior Examining Officer.