Can an apprentice have an Australian Business Number (ABN)?

The answer to this question is No.  In case you’re not yet familiar with it, an ABN number is the unique number (provided by the Commonwealth   Government)  that allows a business to identify itself to government and other businesses.

But this is a question apprentices regularly ask us at ABBTF. The Australian Taxation Office rule states that if you are an apprentice, trades assistant or a labourer you must work under the direction, control and supervision of your employer to learn your trade. As a result, you are considered an employee for Commonwealth tax and superannuation purposes and are therefore not eligible for an ABN, on the basis that you are not yet running your own business.


When it comes to acquiring one, Australian Business numbers are not automatically issued by the Australian Government. To get an ABN you must be Eligible under the terms of the law. For this reason many Australians use specialist tax agents to assist in understanding the eligibility criteria.  For some basic information on the role of ABN’s and how to register, Click Here.

To be eligible to receive an ABN you must be “carrying on an enterprise in Australia”. This means you must have started trading or, at a minimum, conducted sufficient activities to show you intend to start a business.

If you do already have a business, ABBTF is here to explain the business opportunity and selection process around employing your own bricklaying apprentice but it is advisable to consult your accountant when engaging an apprentice as everyone’s financial situation is unique.

Australian Apprenticeship Centres (AAC) also have great advice on the correct process in engaging an apprentice.  To locate an AAC near you, visit their Website Search or call the 13 38 73 to be put in touch with your local AAC.

Tony Bishop
ABBTF Queensland Manager

6 Responses to “Can an apprentice have an Australian Business Number (ABN)?”

  1. Allan

    I had an abn and was an apprentice why can’t apprentice’s have two jobs are they special

    • Brett

      I’m a apprentice and my boss wants me to get a abn how would I go about to get one???

      • BAB

        Hello, you need to apply for an ABN through the Australian Tax Office, however, as an apprentice it is unlikely you will be granted an ABN. An apprentice cannot work under an ABN and the reasons are detailed in this blog.

  2. Pat

    My friend has been doing an apprenticeship and has now been told by the owner that he needs to get an ABN number or he can’t keep doing the apprenticeship. He thinks it’s something to do with avoiding taxes. Could this be right?

    • BAB

      Hi Pat, As you would have read in this blog, it is illegal for an apprentice to work on an ABN. The employer may be trying to avoid paying superannuation and PAYG tax. It is unlikely the ATO would grant your friend an ABN if he/she is working as an apprentice. Once a qualified bricklayer an ABN may be appropriate if working as a sub-contractor at a higher rate of pay. Hope this helps.

  3. Bailey Brassington

    Hi, I was working on an abn before I started my apprenticeship. So what you’re saying, is that because you’re an apprentice or undergoing your apprenticeship you aren’t eligible to work on an abn because you will likely not be granted one?

    What if I already have one and want to do side jobs to gain more income, is this just not allowed ?


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