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If someone already has an ABN (Australian Business Number) is it possible to ‘transfer’ this precise ABN to their new company when they register one?
(By Brendan Muller, Operations Manager of Incorporator.com.au and TradingAs.com.au, September 2014)

The answer is ‘No’.

When people ask this question, the situation is most usually that they already have an ABN in their own name as a sole trader (or as a partnership) but are now wishing to register a company – usually a Pty Ltd company.

The essential notion to grasp right away is that when an Australian company is registered or incorporated (same thing, different terminology) a new and separate legal entity comes in to existence and, therefore, requires all its own things like an ABN, a bank account etc.

In other words, the new company, although owned by the sole trader who registered it, is not him or her and they are not it.

So the ABN of the sole trader remains exactly that and in a sense this ABN is completely irrelevant to the new company.

Of course, the sole trader can de-activate that ABN held in their own name if they wish.