Immigrating to any country is the beginning of living with the laws and regulations of that country. Australia is one of the most immigrant-friendly countries in the world, as well as one of the countries that have many laws and regulations.

After immigrating to Australia, whether for study or work, you have to pay taxes. So, it is better to familiarize yourself with the tax laws of this country before getting there. The Tax File Number (TFN) is an essential part of the tax system in Australia. In this article, we are going to learn more about it and how to apply for it.

Tax File Number  (TFN)

One of the first things you need to do after arriving in Australia is to get a Tax File Number or TFN. A tax file number or TFN is a unique number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to any individual or organization.

All natural and legal persons must have this tax file number. This number actually identifies the person for tax and superannuation systems. To get a tax file number, you should act as soon as possible after getting to Australia.

The  Australian tax file number is usually a 9-digit number that cannot be changed once it is assigned to you, even if you change your name or occupation or move outside of Australia. So, you have to keep it safe.

It is good to know that having TFN is not mandatory, but if you do not have it, you will have to pay more tax. You also can’t apply for government benefits or grants like JobSeeker or file your tax return online. Additionally, you will not be able to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) without it.

How to apply for a TFN?

How you apply for a TFN depends on whether you are an Australian citizen or a temporary or permanent resident. Permanent immigrants and temporary visitors have to apply for a TFN online using Individual Automatic Enrollment (IAR).

In order to be able to use IAR to get your TFN, you have to meet the following 3 conditions:

  •       You are a foreign passport holder, permanent immigrant, or temporary visitor.
  •   You currently live in Australia.
  •       You have one of the following visas

o   Permanent residence visa

o   Visa with work rights

o   International Student visa

o   A visa that allows you to stay in Australia without limitation (including New Zealanders who are automatically granted a visa on arrival).

Note that to get a tax file number,  you are not allowed to mail or send your documents to ATO.  As an international student, you can apply for TFN only after arriving in Australia.

As for the process of applying for TFN, it is not complicated or difficult. In this process, you will be asked for information that may include personal information, your address and phone number in Australia, etc. You’ll also need to answer a few simple questions about your tax history.

How long does it take to get my TFN?

Once you have completed your online application, your tax file number will be sent to your mailing address. How many days it takes for the TFN to arrive can be varied, but it takes up to 28 days after completing the application.

Where to find your TFN

If for any reason you forgot your tax file number or have lost it, you can find this number in several ways. The first and most convenient way is that if you have a myGov account linked to the ATO, your number is accessible in the ATO app or your ATO online account.

You can also find your TFN on your income tax notice of assessment for the last year. If your employer has made a payment for you, your tax file number is listed on your payment summary or income statement. It is also available on your account statement from your superannuation fund.

In the situation that you think your tax file number has been stolen or used without your permission, you must inform the organization as soon as possible.

Why do international students need TFN?

You may also be wondering why I need to have a tax file number as an international student in Australia. So it is better to address the reasons for this question.

If the duration of your study in Australia is more than 6 months, you will be recognized as a temporary immigrant and you will have to pay taxes according to your income like other citizens.

Also, most banks in Australia ask you for a tax file number to open an account, and you must have received TFN before opening an account. You need TFN for asking for loans and also some scholarships from the university or government.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, having a tax file number is not necessary or mandatory, but we highly recommend you get this number. Since if you don’t have TFN and start working, you have to pay the maximum tax rate.

Moreover, without a TFN, you can no longer receive the benefits of the Australian Taxation Office, like tax offsets and tax-free threshold. The Tax return is also impossible without TFN.

TFN vs ABN for international students

If you enter the job market and start working with your studies in Australia, you must have heard the word ABN and you may not know the difference between FTN and ABN. So far in the article, we have found useful information about FTN. Now we will briefly explain ABN.

ABN is the abbreviation of Australian Business Number.  It is an 11-digit number that is given to businesses by the Australian Business Register and is a kind of business identification number. If you, as an international student, want to do freelance work or work for yourself, you need to get an ABN. Don’t forget that in order to get an ABN, you must have received an FTN first.

When you work for another person or a certain company, you must give your FTN to your employer. Your employer then deducts the tax from your wages when they pay you each week or month. Also, because you work for him, he must provide your insurance and pay your superannuation.

When you are self-employed or a freelancer, you must have an ABN. In this case, your income is your own and you receive this income completely without tax deduction. Then, at the end of the fiscal year, you have to lodge your tax returns. You should also pay your insurance or superannuation yourself freely.


every course you find will give you a pathway to post study visa

The important thing here is to fully understand the difference between the two, as employers may take advantage of your lack of knowledge and ask for your ABN number. In this way, your contract will be considered like an ABN contract and your employer will no longer pay taxes or insurance for you. He can also deprive you of the right to take leave.

Can I have both FTN and ABN as an international student?

The answer to this question is yes. You can have both an ABN and an FTN. This means that you can either work for an employer or work for yourself. You only need to note that your working hours in both jobs are less than the working hours limit for students in Australia. Students can work up to 40 hours a week in Australia.

For example, you find a job in a restaurant and work part-time at night. After a while, you want to earn more, so you also work as an Uber driver. You enter into a partnership with Uber and start working. You need to get an ABN for this job. So a student can have both FTN and ABN.

Keep your FTN super safe!!

To do their work, identity thieves and fraudsters only need some of your personal and private information, such as your name and date of birth, TFN number, etc. So, it is very important that you do not share your personal information including your TFN and keep it safe.

If identity thieves steal your information, they can do the following:

  • Buy anything using your bank account and credit card.
  • Log into your myGov account and steal your tax refund.
  • Sell your house.
  • Sell your stolen identity to criminal gangs on the dark web.
  • Apply for government benefits.
  • Manipulate your business statements.

If your identity and information are stolen, you may not be able to get a job, rent a home, or apply for government benefits for a long time.

Who can I give my TFN to?

By reading the previous part, you must have realized the importance of keeping your FTN safe. Of course, you can give your TFN to some people or organizations for legal purposes. The first organization you can and should notify your TFN is the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). When you want to enter a job, you must also give your tax file number to your employer.

As we mentioned in the section on reasons for having a TFN, you must provide your TFN to your bank to open a bank account. You can also enter the TFN in the financial information section of your university profile. Another legal entity to provide your TFN is your pension fund. Finally, if you are applying for benefits from a certain government organization, they may ask for your TFN.

Last words

In Australia, there are certain rules and regulations for everything. The tax system and its related issues are no exception to this rule, and according to many, there are complicated rules for it in Australia. The first and easiest thing to know about the tax system in Australia is TFN.

All people who intend to work in Australia, or even international students, must apply for a TNF. In this article, the Australian tax file number and how to apply for it were explained. If you have a specific question in this field, feel free to contact Univly or leave your comment here.


What is TFN?

A tax file number or TFN is a unique number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to any individual or organization.

Is it mandatory to have a TFN as an international student?

No, but we highly recommend applying for it.

How can I apply for TFN?

You can apply for TFN online and on the ATO website.

Are TFN and ABN the same?

No, you get TNF when working for an employer and ABN when working for yourself.

What is the cost of applying for TFN?

It is free to get a FTN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *