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Apply for a TFN

How To Apply For A Tax File Number (TFN) in Australia

A Tax File Number (TFN) is a personal reference number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to individuals and organisations. Your TFN stays with you when you move interstate or overseas, change your name or change jobs. 

If you are starting a business, applying for a TFN is essential. A business can use its TFN to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) or electronically lodge its tax returns. 

As an individual, you don’t have to have a TFN, but without one, you pay more tax. You also won’t be able to apply for government benefits, lodge your tax return electronically or get an ABN.

If you are an Australian citizen or Australian resident for tax purposes, you are eligible to apply for a TFN. You are not eligible to apply for a TFN if you are a temporary visitor or live outside Australia. Permanent migrants and working holidaymakers are eligible but must be in Australia to apply. 

If you're unsure, you can contact the Australian Tax Office to find out more.

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How To Apply for a TFN 

You can apply for a TFN online, at a Service Australia Centre, and through other channels. The application process may be different if you are an Australian Citizen, or if you hold an international passport but you are an Australian resident for tax purposes. In both these cases, applying for a TFN is free. However, the application process may be different depending on your circumstances and the identity documents you can provide.

We will review some application options below, but remember that you can always check the ATO page for more information.

Online TFN Application for Australian Citizens

If you are an Australian citizen with an Australian passport you can apply online using your myGovID. By doing this you will receive your TFN straight away and you will be able to start accessing myGov and ATO online services. 

If you are an Australian resident for tax purposes, you can also follow the same application process, which is explained in the next section of this article. 

To apply for your TFN online, you need to consider the following points:

  • Be 15 years old or older
  • Have an Australian passport
  • Have at least one more Australian identity document, such as your driver’s license

Once you have made these considerations, you can follow the following steps to complete your application:

  1. Set up your a strong myGovID
  2. Review the ATO’s terms and conditions for applying for a TFN
  3. Apply for your TFN

Once you complete this process, you should receive your TFN straight away. It will be displayed on the screen and you can then download or print a summary of your application, which will also include your TFN number. 

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TFN Application for Internationals (Australian residents for tax purposes) 

If you are not an Australian citizen but identify as an Australian resident for tax purposes, your options for applying for a TFN will depend on the identity documents you can provide. 

Note: If you are not sure if you are an Australian resident for tax purposes, you can use the ATO tax residency test to find out.

Here are the different ways you can apply for a TFN: 

  • Apply online using a myGovID. You may need an Australian passport for this option
  • At any Australia Post office
  • At a Services Australia Centre
  • By post – paper application

For Norfolk Island Residents and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, the TFN application may be different. Please visit the ATO pages for more information.

If you want to apply at Australia Post

You can apply for a TFN at Australia Post if you are able to attend an interview. There is no fee for lodging your TFN application with Australia Post. Here are the steps how to apply at Australia Post: 

  1. Visit the Australian Tax Office's website to complete the online application. You may need to have your Australian (or international) passport to provide identification. 
  2. Gather your identity documents and relevant information and print your application summary. You will need these at your interview if you choose to apply at Australia Post.
  3. You will need to find a nearby Post Office that accepts TFN applications and book your interview within 30 days of completing your online form. 
  4. Attend your interview and don’t forget your application summary and original proof of identity documents.
  5. Sign your application during your interview at Australia Post to complete your TFN application.

Once your interview is complete, you should receive the TFN within 28 calendar days. You will receive your TFN via mail from the ATO. They will use the address included in your application. 

If you want to apply at a Services Australia centre

As an Australian resident for tax purposes, you can apply in person at a Services Australia centre. 

  1. Get a copy of the Tax file number - application or enquiry for individuals (NAT 1432) form. You can either order it online on the ATO page, or you can ask for one at the Services Australia centre you visit. 
  2. Provide your original proof of identity documents at the Services Australia centre.

Once your TFN application has been processed, the ATO will send the TFN to you. 

If you can’t apply for your TFN via any other channels, you will have to apply by post

If you are having issues applying online, via Australia Post, Services Australia, or any of the other available channels, you will need to complete a paper form and apply via post. 

The form you will need for this is called Tax file number – application or enquiry for individuals (NAT 1432). To get a copy of this paper form you can either:

Once you have completed the TFN application form, please send the completed form and the certified copies of your proof of identity documents to the address listed on the form.

If you had any other questions about this process or applying for your TFN, you can check the ATO TFN application enquiry page. 

Consider the type of TFN you need for businesses

There are different types of TFN, and the one you apply for will depend on your business structure. 

1. Trust, Company or Partnership

You need a TFN specifically for your business. The majority of businesses apply for this TFN at the same time as their ABN application. 

2. Sole Trader

When you are dealing with the ATO, you can use your individual TFN. If you do not yet have an individual TFN, you will need to apply for one. 

Before you visit the ATO site to apply for your TFN, be sure you know which one you need. If you are ever in doubt, seek professional advice.

Protecting your Personal Information

You should take steps to protect your personal information. Identity theft is as simple as getting access to basic details like your name, address, date of birth or TFN. Only certain organisations will ask you for your TFN: 

  • The ATO
  • Your financial institution or bank
  • Your employer once you start a job
  • Centrelink
  • Your superannuation fund
  • Your registered tax agent 

If anyone else requests your TFN, you should not share it with them. 

How To Find A Tax File Number 

If you have lost your TFN, here’s how you can try to retrieve it.

Your TFN was probably listed on various paperwork such as the following: 

  • Each financial year's income tax notice of assessment will have your TFN
  • Any correspondence the ATO has sent to you will have your TFN
  • You will be able to find your TFN on your employer's payment summary
  • Check your superannuation fund's account statement – your TFN should be listed there

Alternatively, if you have linked your ATO account with your MyGov account, you would be able to see your TFN number there. 

If you have taken those steps and you still cannot locate your TFN, there are several avenues available to you if you have lost your TFN or believe it has been stolen. The first step is to contact your accountant or tax agent. If you have one of these professionals involved in your finances, you would have provided them with your TFN previously. 

If you do not have a tax agent or accountant, you will need to contact the ATO directly. They will be able to advise you on what to do next. But first, you will need to answer a few questions to confirm your identity.

If you haven't already been asked to record a voiceprint you may be asked to do so. This will be used as an extra layer of security for future calls. 

To contact the ATO, call 13 28 61 between 8 am and 8 pm AEST Monday to Friday. 

If you believe your TFN is being misused or has been stolen, call 1800 467 033. The ATO will take immediate steps to track down any unauthorised use of a TFN. 

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