Have you just arrived in Australia and are starting your job search? In order to work in Australia, you will need to get your Tax File Number (TFN). Your TFN must be communicated to your employer when you start a new job. So here is all the information you need about TFN in Australia, what it is, how to get it, deadlines etc.
Table of Contents
What is a TFN? What is it for?
Your TFN is a unique and personal 9-digit number. This number allows you to be registered with the Australian Tax Office (ATO). It is essential if you want to work in Australia (regardless of your visa).
It is important to get your TFN before you start working in Australia. When you start a job, you have 28 days to provide your Tax File Number to your employer. The TFN application is a mandatory step if you plan to work in Australia. If you do not complete this step, you will be taxed at the maximum rate (47%).
This number does not change and is assigned to you for life (regardless of whether you change your name, visa, address etc). You can therefore return to Australia with a second WHV or another visa and use the same number.
The TFN is required for several procedures in Australia, including:
- Opening an Australian bank account
- Starting a new job (seasonal job, in office etc)
- Filing your tax return
- Communicating with your retirement fund (Superannuation fund) and recovering part of your superannuation when you leave Australia.
Your TFN is a confidential number, and you should only share it with trusted organisations.
How to get a TFN?
The TFN can be obtained by applying online (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) using Individual Auto Registration on the Australian Tax Office website. The process is free and must be done from Australia. You will therefore not be able to make your request from UK or a foreign country.
If you are having trouble applying online, feel free to drop by an ATO office, where staff will be able to assist you. There are several ATO offices in Australia (mainly in big cities). You can find their addresses HERE on the ATO website.
Following your request, you will receive a reference number that you can use while waiting to receive your final TFN. Your TFN will be sent to you within 28 days, to the postal address indicated during your request.
If you no longer live at the same address, don’t panic! You can still get your TFN by calling 13 28 61 (8am to 6pm Monday to Friday). If you do not speak English well, you can contact their translation service on 13 14 50.
Step 1: Check that you meet the conditions to apply
To apply, you will need:
- Be in possession of a foreign passport, be a permanent migrant or a temporary visitor
- Already be in Australia
- Have a valid visa that allows you to work (i.e. permanent resident visa, working holiday visa, overseas student visa etc).
Step 2: Prepare the necessary documents for your application
To apply, you will need your passport, a postal address in Australia, an Australian mobile number and a valid email address. Prepare all these documents before applying online.
Step 3: Connect to the ATO website
A TFN application can only made on the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) website.
Note that if the website is under maintenance you can always download the TFN application form (it will be available for download) and send it to the address indicated on the form.
Once on the homepage, click on “Apply online for a TFN“:
Step 4: Fill out the online form
The first page explains who can apply for a tax file number, and provides you the useful phone numbers if you wish to contact the ATO. After reading the page, click Start.
Your personal details
On the next page, you need to enter your identity details and personal information.
The fields marked with an asterisk must be filled in.
You must enter your passport number, country of issue and indicate if you’ve ever been in Australia before (holiday, studies, work etc).
Then you need to provide your personal details: your title (Sir, Madam, Miss), your last name and your first name.
You will be asked if you have been known by any other names before (e.g. maiden name if you took your husbands name after marriage). Click no if this is not the case.
You must then indicate your date of birth, specify your sex (male/female) and give the same information for your partner, if you are travelling with someone. If you are travelling as a couple and cannot provide proof that your relationship has lasted for more than a year, do not complete this section.
Then click Next.
Then provide your date of birth, gender and other details. Then click Next
Existing TFN or ABN
This page inquires about any former TFN or Australian Business Number (ABN) you may have had.
The first question asked on this page is “Have you ever applied for a TFN or ABN in Australia?“. You may have applied for an ABN or TFN a few years ago and even gotten one, but you do not remember it. In this case, we advise you to contact the ATO before applying online.
The second question is whether you have already obtained a TFN or ABN in Australia. Answer yes if this is the case. Then complete the following boxes with your TFN or ABN number.
You are then asked if you have ever filed a tax return in Australia. Usually the answer will be NO.
The last question asks you to indicate whether you own property or other earnings in Australia (e.g. dividends). Usually the answer will be NO.
Once this section is complete, click next.
Your address in Australia
You must then enter the postal address to which your TFN number will be sent. It is important to provide an address where you will reside for a minimum of 28 days (the maximum time it can take for your TFN to be posted to you). If you don’t have a long-term address, you can put down the address of your hostel or other accommodation. Don’t worry too much – if you’re no longer at the same address when your TFN arrives, you can get your TFN number by calling the ATO or dropping by one of their offices.
Personal contact details
Enter your Australian landline or mobile phone number and email address here.
Summary and validation
The last step is to confirm that the information you have provided is correct.
If so, click the “SUBMIT” button.
Make sure you save your transaction number (Application Reference Number). Once you have clicked on “SUBMIT”, you will be redirected to a screen which confirms that your request has been registered.
Once your application is complete you will receive your TFN within 28 days.IF YOU CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS IN THE MEANTIME YOU CAN CALL THE ATO AT 13 28 61.
What if I don’t have an address in Australia?
Please note that it is important to provide an address where you will reside for a minimum of 28 days (maximum deadline for sending your TFN). If you don’t have long-term accommodation, you can use the address of a friend, your hostel or even a PO box.
What should I do once I have received my TFN number?
If you have already found a job, give your TFN number to your employer. It is essential to complete the TFN declaration form before starting work (you have a legal period of 28 days in which to do so).
Your TFN number must also be forwarded to your Australian bank.
What should I do if I haven’t received my mail after 28 days?
Telephone the ATO on 13 28 61 to explain your situation, and your number will be communicated to you directly if it has already been assigned to you. The important thing is to get your TFN number, whether it is by letter or by phone.
I am renewing my WHV for a second year, do I have to redo my TFN?
No. Your TFN is assigned to you for life, so you will never need to reapply.
My personal situation has changed, what should I do?
If you have a TFN but your personal circumstances have changed, you can notify the ATO by updating your MyGov account which is linked to the ATO. It is also possible to update your information by calling 13 28 61.
I have lost my TFN, what should I do?
If you have a TFN and cannot find it, you can log into your MyGov account.
If you don’t have a myGov account, you can usually find your TFN on:
- your income tax notice, if you have already filed a tax return
- the letters you received from the ATO
- a summary of payments (‘payment summary’, provided by your employer)
- your superannuation account statement.
If you still cannot find your TFN after checking these options, call the ATO on 132861
Can foreign residents obtain a TFN?
Yes, foreign residents can obtain a TFN if they need a tax identification number to work or for other financial reasons in Australia. If you are on a Working Holiday Visa and you want to work in Australia, you will need a TFN, it is mandatory.
When do I have to provide my TFN?
You must provide your TFN to your employer when you start working in Australia. You must also provide your TFN when you open a bank account, when you apply for a loan, and for any other important financial transaction.
Can I use the same TFN for different jobs?
Yes, you always use the same TFN for different jobs. It is a personal number that will serve you throughout your stay in Australia. It is important not to share your TFN with other people or organisations as this can put your identity and tax information at risk.
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