Why was my ABN cancelled?

An ABN (Australian Business Number) is crucial for doing business. It’s essential for tax, transactions and all kinds of operations, making unexpected ABN cancellation more than a little frustrating.

For small business owners and sole traders, cancellation means missed opportunities, costly disruptions and lost time going through the ABN reactivation process.

We’re here to help you avoid these complications by understanding why the ABR (Australian Business Register) cancelled your ABN, how you’ll be notified, and what to do to reactivate a cancelled ABN.

Why was my ABN cancelled? Common reasons the ABR will cancel an ABN

In our experience, ABR usually has a good reason for cancelling an ABN.

Your ABN might be flagged for cancellation if the ABR is confident it is no longer in use. The most common reasons are:

  • You haven’t reported business income or submitted a Business Activity Statement (BAS) in a while
  • Your business ceased to operate or was sold
  • You lodged a final tax return or advised that you ceased operating in a tax return
  • You provided incorrect, outdated or misleading details on official paperwork, such as mismatched or inconsistent identity information
  • Your business structure changed, for example switching from a sole trader to a partnership or registered company
  • Your business activities changed, for example pivoting from retail to manufacturing
  • You operate an overseas business and have ceased operations in Australia
  • You are operating under an unregistered business name or “trading name”

The ABR will also cancel an ABN if the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) advises the company is deregistered.

How will I know if my ABN is cancelled?

As you can probably infer from the reasons above, ABN cancellation rarely comes out of the blue.

The ABR will send you notifications via email, post or text message if your ABN is on the brink of cancellation. These will typically include the reason for flagging your ABN and instructions on how to keep it active if you still need it.

If a professional agent is managing your ABN registration, they will receive the notification and forward it to you. As an ASIC Registered Agent, we provide this service for small businesses and sole traders who trust our experienced team to keep the important details updated.

Working with Registry means never needing to ask, “Why was my ABN cancelled?”.

If you are self-managing your ABN registration, now is a good time to check that your contact details are current with the ABR.

I didn’t receive any notification but I believe my ABN was cancelled

A quick business name check on the Register’s ABN lookup tool will tell you whether the status changed from “Active” to “Cancelled”, and when it happened.

You can also check the registered details to ensure your registration is accurate.

What about tax and GST?

Pay As You Go withholding (PAYG) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) registrations linked to a deactivated ABN will not automatically cancel. You must cancel these manually if you do not plan to reactivate your ABN.

Can I reactivate a cancelled ABN?

The good news is you can reinstate a cancelled ABN, provided you are entitled to have one.

ABN reactivation is similar to applying for a new ABN. In fact, the ABR calls it “reapplying” rather than reactivating.

You can (re)apply through the ABR website, although the process can be confusing as there is virtually no difference between applying and reactivating.

Registry Australia offers a better ABN reactivation service. It’s faster, simpler and much more user-friendly, ensuring you get back up and running with minimal interruption.

What are the steps to reactivate an ABN?

ABN reactivation involves updating your business details, providing the necessary documentation and paying any outstanding fees.

  • Visit Registry’s ABN registration and reactivation page
  • Enter your ABN under “Renew your ABN”
  • Pay the ABN reactivation fee
  • We’ll reach out if you need to pay outstanding obligations

In the process of reactivating your ABN, we’ll also update your registration details to prevent future issues.

How long does ABN reactivation take?

The ABR usually needs to review your details before reactivating your ABN. This can take up to 20 days, although working with a professional agent like Registry speeds up the process by avoiding unforced errors.

We will be in touch immediately once we receive the good news that your ABN is back in play. And if there is anything to review, our local service team will reach out to confirm or clarify the details.

The easiest way to reactivate an ABN

Registry’s online services give sole traders, partners and small business owners a simple self-service portal to manage the essentials.

We make ABN registration and reactivation easy, as well as business name registration and company registration so you can grow your business without interruption.

With a local support team, years of experience and affordable services, everything you need is in one convenient place.

Learn more about our services or call us on 1300 070 000.

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