Go to top of page

Program 1.3 Australian Business Registry Services


The new Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS) will streamline how businesses interact with government and manage their registry obligations, providing one unified source of trusted business information. Modernising business registers (MBR) is a key reform under the government’s Deregulation Agenda.

The Commissioner of Taxation has been appointed as the Registrar under the:

  • Business Names Registration Act 2011
  • Commonwealth Registers Act 2020
  • Corporations Act 2001
  • National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009.

The ABRS has been established to assist the Registrar to carry out their functions. The Registrar has separate and distinct responsibilities from the Commissioner of Taxation, including administering director identification numbers and assisting the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to manage its registry functions. The Commissioner of Taxation remains Registrar of the Australian Business Register (ABR) under the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999.


The ABRS is a new service that will be progressively established over the coming years. It will provide:

  • effective, efficient and accessible business registry services that reduce the regulatory burden for business
  • a unified, accessible and trusted source of business data that supports the activities of businesses, governments and the community
  • robust identity verification and relationship traceability for directors, which will foster trust and confidence by creating a fairer business environment.

Program overview

This overview of ABRS performance aligns with the ATO corporate plan 2020–21 and presents our 2020–21 performance against the one strategic initiative to deliver the program.


The ABR program, which forms part of ABRS, works with government, digital service providers, the business community and other key stakeholders to support a fairer business environment that fosters greater economic growth and job creation. This will be achieved through increased use of a trusted national business dataset and consistent information exchange standards through Standard Business Reporting (SBR). For more information about SBR, see sbr.gov.au.

Under a delegation from ASIC, the Registrar of the ABRS is responsible for assisting ASIC to perform its registry function, including reporting against the associated performance measures from 2021–22. As ASIC registers are migrated to the new registry system, the Registrar will assume primary responsibility for registry functions and associated reporting.

We continue to collaborate across the ATO to support ABN holders in meeting their tax and superannuation obligations, through intuitive and easy-to-use systems and tools.

This initiative has two measures, both of which were fully met.

Performance summary

In 2020–21, we continued to deliver existing registry services while progressing the MBR program.

Funding of $419.9 million for the full implementation of the MBR program – including introduction of the director identification number initiative – was announced in the 2020–21 Budget as part of the government’s Digital Business Plan. This followed $60.6 million in funding announced as part of the 2019–20 Mid‑Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook context to commence implementation.

Our focus for 2020–21 was to commence establishing the ABRS, including the creation of a brand and identity to reflect our service promise and the scope of the new service. We also continued to design the optimised services to be offered by the ABRS through collaboration with our key stakeholders.

The new director identification number (director ID) system was deployed to private beta in ‍March‍ 2021; the first major deliverable on the newly established ABRS platform. The first director ID was successfully issued on 20 April 2021 as part of business verification testing, allowing private beta testing of the online director ID services to commence.

On 4 April 2021, the Commissioner of Taxation was appointed as Registrar for a range of ASIC registry functions and director ID administration, in addition to his existing Australian Business Register (ABR) responsibilities. To support the Registrar’s appointment, ASIC registry functions and approximately 220 ASIC staff integrated to the ATO on 15 April 2021. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two agencies to cover the progressive transition of registry responsibilities as the MBR program is implemented.

The ABR program commitments for 2020–21 included maintaining trust and confidence in the ABR. We removed close to 150,000 inactive and ineligible ABNs. The cancellation of ABNs was balanced with providing support for businesses impacted by COVID-19 and the need to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the business population on the ABR. The ABR also supported the integrity of JobKeeper and Cash Flow Boost through the requirement for entities to have an ABN.

Performance results overview

Performance results

Our two performance criteria for ABRS are set out on page 207 of the Australian Taxation Office Budget Statements (in the Treasury PBS), and pages 11 and 16 of the ATO corporate plan 2020–‍21.

ABRS results, 2018–19 to 2020–21

Performance criterion










Increased use of ABR as the national business dataset: government agencies (ABR Explorer)

PBS 207
CP 11, 16

368 agencies using ABR Explorer (18% increase)


405 agencies using ABR Explorer (10% increase)



agencies using ABR Explorer


400 agencies using
ABR Explorer

Increased use of ABR as the national business dataset: government agencies (ABR connect)

PBS 207
CP 11, 16

17 agencies using ABR Connect


27 agencies using ABR Connect (58% increase)



agencies using ABR Connect


16 agencies using
ABR Connect

Increased use of ABR as the national business dataset: community

PBS 207
CP 11, 16

1,445m ABN Lookup searches (40% increase)


1,519m ABN Lookup searches (5% increase)



ABN Lookup searches (20% increase)


ABN Lookup searches

Reduction in the administrative cost to businesses and government in dealing with each other

PBS 207
CP 11, 16








A = Target achieved; S = Target substantially achieved; N = Target not achieved; X = Result or target not available

Results analysis

Increased use of the ABR as the national business dataset

The consumption of ABR data by government agencies and the community continues to increase through a variety of channels, including ABR Explorer, ABR Connect and ABN Lookup.

In 2020–21 we exceeded all targets for the increased use of the ABR as a national business dataset, with the number of agencies using ABR Explorer increasing to 407. This result was achieved while transitioning users to myGovID as the access and authentication method for ABR data, replacing AUSkey.

The number of agencies using ABR Connect increased to 29 agencies in 2020–21. ABN Lookup searches increased to 1.8 billion, an increase of 20% over the previous year. ABN Lookup contributes to public value as a key data and information source for decision-making purposes. It is used by information brokers, businesses, government entities and the community – for example, to check who a business or person is dealing with and to pre-fill forms.

We support the increased use of ABR data by working with government agencies to provide them with access to customised ABR datasets that support service delivery, planning and policy development. This year we supported many agencies across all levels of government to respond to natural disasters and COVID-19 – for example making sure businesses are eligible for stimulus payments by validating their ABN and GST status.

Reduction in the administrative cost to businesses and government in dealing with each other

The annual calculation of the reduction in the administrative cost to businesses and government in dealing with each other is an estimate that is derived using a methodology that is regularly independently reviewed and updated with actual figures. The latest review of the figures and methodology was undertaken in 2020–21. The annual savings estimated for the 2020–21 financial year are $2.1 billion, an increase of 7.7% on the previous savings of $1.95 billion.

The result indicates that the ABR program initiatives continue to deliver savings to business and government through reducing the reporting burden, minimising cost to business and enhancing business interactions through natural-based systems.