Demystifying ABNs for Mystery Shoppers: Do You Need One?


Introduction, ABNs for Mystery Shoppers: Do You Need One?

Mystery shopping is an intriguing field that allows individuals to evaluate and improve customer experiences while earning income. As aspiring mystery shoppers navigate the world of independent contracting, a common question arises: Do mystery shoppers need an Australian Business Number (ABN)? In this article, we will explore the necessity of an ABN for mystery shoppers, shed light on the benefits and obligations associated with having one, and provide guidance on obtaining an ABN if required.

Understanding the Australian Business Number (ABN)

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier issued by the Australian government’s Australian Business Register (ABR). It is used to identify businesses and organizations in their dealings with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and other government entities.

The Need for an ABN for Mystery Shoppers

The requirement for an ABN depends on several factors, including the nature of the mystery shopping work and the relationship between the shopper and the mystery shopping company. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Independent Contractor Status: Many mystery shoppers operate as independent contractors rather than employees of the mystery shopping companies. In this case, having an ABN is generally required because mystery shoppers are considered to be running their own small business.
  2. Sole Traders: If mystery shoppers operate as sole traders, meaning they are the sole owners of their business, an ABN is necessary. It enables them to separate their personal income from their business income and simplifies tax obligations.
  3. Engagement with Mystery Shopping Companies: Some mystery shopping companies engage shoppers as employees rather than independent contractors. In such cases, an ABN may not be necessary as the company handles tax obligations and payment arrangements.

Benefits and Obligations of Having an ABN

Having an ABN as a mystery shopper can offer several benefits:

  1. Professionalism: An ABN lends an air of professionalism to your mystery shopping business. It demonstrates that you are a registered entity and boosts your credibility when dealing with mystery shopping companies.
  2. Tax Deductions: With an ABN, mystery shoppers can claim tax deductions for work-related expenses, such as travel costs, equipment, and other expenses directly related to their mystery shopping activities.
  3. Business Opportunities: An ABN opens up the possibility of pursuing other freelance or contract work beyond mystery shopping. It allows for versatility and the ability to engage in various business ventures.

While an ABN offers benefits, it also entails certain obligations:

  1. Business Reporting: Mystery shoppers with an ABN must maintain accurate records of their income, expenses, and other relevant financial information. They are responsible for reporting their earnings and fulfilling tax obligations as required by the Australian Taxation Office.
  2. Goods and Services Tax (GST): Registering for GST is mandatory if your annual turnover exceeds the threshold set by the ATO (currently $75,000 per year). Mystery shoppers with an ABN must comply with GST obligations, including filing regular Business Activity Statements (BAS) and remitting GST to the ATO.

Obtaining an ABN

If you determine that you need an ABN as a mystery shopper, the process of obtaining one is relatively straightforward:

  1. Visit the Australian Business Register (ABR) website or contact the ABR to initiate the ABN application process.
  2. Complete the online application form, providing accurate information about your business activities and personal details.
  3. Submit the application. Upon successful submission, you will receive a confirmation of your ABN and other relevant details.

Remember to keep your ABN details secure and update any changes to your business structure or personal information to ensure compliance with government regulations.


While mystery shoppers can operate both with and without an ABN depending on their circumstances, having an ABN offers benefits such as professionalism, tax deductions, and business opportunities. It is important to assess your status as an independent contractor or employee and understand your tax obligations before deciding whether to obtain an ABN. If you determine that you need an ABN, follow the straightforward application process provided by the Australian Business Register. By navigating the ABN requirements appropriately, mystery shoppers can establish themselves as legitimate businesses, maximize their financial opportunities, and comply with relevant taxation obligations.

Please feel free to call us anytime

1300 88 33 16

Alternatively if you would like us to to give you a call,
simply fill out your details below