Do you know the consequences of non-compliance in the display of your company name, ACN or ABN requirements?

The consequences of not complying with Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Business Number (ABN) requirements under the Corporations Act of 2001 can bring about a fine of up to $1,700, three months in jail, or both!

This article provides an overview of what you need to consider in relation to your company name, ACN or ABN to ensure that you are complying with all required regulations, and thus avoiding the penalties.

Disclosure of company name and ACN

Under the Corporations Act of 2001, a company’s name must be ‘on all of its public documents and negotiable instruments’ and must make reference to the “Australian Company Number” followed by the company’s actual registered number. Examples of the ‘documents’ and ‘instruments’ can be found on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) website here. ASIC states that the ACN must be on:

  • all documents required to be lodged with ASIC
  • statements of account (including invoices)
  • receipts (which are not machine-produced)
  • orders for goods and services
  • business letterheads
  • official company notices
  • cheques, promissory notes and bills of exchange
  • written advertisements making a specific order which is capable of being accepted (e.g. by the completion of an order form).

What happens if there are more than two pages of the ‘document’ or ‘instrument’?

In some cases your ‘document’ or ‘instrument’ may turn out to be more than two pages long. Instead of inserting your ACN on each page it is sufficient to footnote your ACN on only the first page of the ‘document’ or ‘instrument,’ and leave it off the rest.

Use of “ACN” and “ABN”

It is also fine to abbreviate “Australian Company Number” to “ACN” and “Australian Business Number” to “ABN”. Furthermore, in cases where the company’s ACN would be used, the company’s ABN may be used instead. This is allowed in situations where the ACN is required or permitted to be used under a Commonwealth law administered by ASIC, as long as the last nine (9) digits of the ABN are the same, and in the same order, as the last nine (9) digits of the ACN.


The company name must also appear at all places where it “carries on” or in other words operates its business and is open to the public. Furthermore, a company’s name and the words “Registered Office” must appear at its registered offices.

ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 13

For further information about the legal requirements in relation to the ACN, please refer to ASIC’s Regulatory Guide 13 ACN, ARBN and company names which can be found on the ASIC website here.

Non-compliance with the requirements surrounding your ABN, ACN or company name can lead to harsh penalties. It is therefore of paramount importance that you continually consider your obligations, keeping to the requirements under the Corporations Act of 2001. If you require any legal assistance in this matter then please contact Tri-meridian and we can advise you on how to best comply and avoid these penalties.

For further information, please contact the author.

This article is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Tri-meridian Corporate & Commercial Law and is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. We do not accept responsibility for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser.