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accountants and bookkeepers

Guide to ATO Machine Credentials

Managing credentials is an integral part of interacting with the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) online services. Machine credentials replaced AUSkeys back in 2020, so it’s essential to understand how they work for the future. 

Machine credentials simplify and enhance your access to ATO services through your business software. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating a new machine credential, helping you navigate digital authorisation with ease.

What Are Machine Credentials?

Machine credentials are digital keys that enable seamless interaction with government online services using your business software. They are essential for individuals and businesses alike, but the specific requirements for their use differ. You may need a machine credential if:

  • You are a digital service provider offering cloud-based Standard Business Reporting (SBR) enabled software. To facilitate software authentication by third-party users, you must create a machine credential and install it on your server.
  • You are using desktop or locally hosted software. This credential performs the same functions as an Administrator or Standard AUSkey in your software.

If you’re using cloud-based SBR-enabled software, creating a machine credential is unnecessary; the cloud-based software doesn't require it.

Who Needs Machine Credentials?

Machine credentials, also known as M2M (Machine to Machine) solution, allow digital service providers, businesses, and registered tax and BAS agents to interact with ATO online services through their SBR-enabled software. Mainly, two categories of people need to know how to use machine credentials. These are: 

  1. Principal authorities - business owners listed in the Australian Business Register (ABR). They hold the responsibility for the initial setup of the business in Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) and have the authority to set up a machine credential. 
  2. A business representative - a professional with a machine credential administrator role can create machine credentials on behalf of the business. This is only necessary if your business uses software to interact directly with the ATO’s services. 
Take the stress out of managing your firm

How to Install a Machine Credential

Before diving into the machine credential creation process, you need to download and install a browser extension that's compatible with your device's operating system. These browser extensions are available for Firefox and Chrome-based web browsers on Windows, MAC OS, and Linux. 

Now you’ve done that, let’s explore how you can install a machine credential

Installing a Machine Credential

Step 1: Open your web browser and go to Then, click the "Login with myGovID" button in the top right-hand corner.

Step 2: Enter the email address you used to set up your myGovID. A 4-digit code will appear in your browser. Open the myGovID app on your device, enter the code, and click "Accept." If you've chosen the "Remember me" option, you'll only need to click "Accept" in your app.

Step 3: Click "View or manage authorisations, machine credentials, and cloud software notifications." This will direct you to a view of all the entities you can act on behalf of. Select the entity that you want to create a machine credential for.

Step 4: The entity homepage will be displayed with a list of all the authorisations for the entity. Click the "Manage Credentials" tab in the toolbar.

Step 5: If you've already installed the required browser extension, proceed to the next step. If not, you'll receive a message indicating that browser extension software is required. Click "Machine credential downloads" or refer to the "Installing a browser extension" section.

Step 6: Select "Create machine credential."

Step 7: Enter the following information:

  • Keystore path -  The location where the machine credential will be created and stored. The information will be pre-filled but can be changed if needed.
  • Keystore password - Choose a password that is at least 10 characters, including an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character. This password will be provided within your software during setup or authentication, and it should not be the same as your myGovID password.
  • Verify your keystore password - Re-enter your chosen password.
  • Credential name - Create a name that helps you quickly identify the machine credential. If you're creating a new machine credential to prevent the expiration of an existing one, use the same credential name.
  • Identify the machine credential custodian - This will be pre-filled with your name and cannot be changed.

If you're creating a new machine credential to prevent an existing one from expiring, a message will confirm that the new credential will share the same permissions. You'll need to revoke the existing machine credential if it hasn't expired yet.

You have several options for storing the machine credentials:

  • In an existing keystore by using the initial keystore path and password
  • In a new keystore, changing the keystore path and password
  • In a new keystore, each time you create one – you'll need to change the keystore path each time you make a new machine credential.

The machine credential keystore is generated using Extensible Markup Language (XML). If your software requires the keystore in an alternative format, follow your provider's guidance to convert and install it.

Tick the box to confirm that you understand and accept the machine credential details, and click "Download."

Step 8: After downloading, you'll receive a message confirming that the machine credential has been successfully installed.

Step 9: On the "Manage credentials" page, you can create, edit, revoke, and claim unassigned machine credentials for your entity of choice.

How QuickBooks Can Help

If you want to directly report to the ATO with accounting software, try QuickBooks Online. 

QuickBooks integrates with ATO services, including the Single Touch Payroll (STP) reporting system, allowing businesses to report payroll information directly to the ATO. By using machine credentials, QuickBooks streamlines the process of reporting financial and payroll information for accountants working on behalf of business clients. Sign up for QuickBooks Online today to streamline your financial processes.

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