The first and foremost thing you need to know while migrating to another country is law of the land. In Australia too, form the very beginning of your journey you need to know your legal obligations such as taxation. Often migrators and students travelling to Australia seems unaware of the rules and regulations need to follow in Australia. Even at the airport you can see people not declaring the products they carry in luggage, which could lead to cancellation of their visa on the spot. Almost all travellers no matter permanent migrants or temporary visa holders, they were given brief legal obligation information along with the visa.

Taxation is one of the major obligations everyone in Australia should follow. You need to pay tax on whatever you earn by any means. Tax File Number (TFN) is the identifier, that keeps your income and tax obligation record. Before you start working in Australia you must get TFN and share with your employer. So here in this article, we discuss the TFN (Tax File Number), the process of getting one who can apply for the TFN, along the consequences.  

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An ultimate guide to Tax File Number in Australia

Paying Tax is Mandatory 

The Australian government collects tax on the income of its citizens. It is mandatory to have a tax file number (TFN) to receive income in Australia. 

As an Australian citizen or an ex-pat living and working in Australia, you should apply for a tax file number (TFN). A TFN lets you file your taxes online and access government benefits. It also helps you pay the right amount of tax.

You may also need your TFN if you are married to an Australian citizen. Your spouse wishes to take advantage of family tax relief. If you derive certain types of income from Australia while abroad, you may also need your TFN.

The following is information on how to apply for a tax file number in Australia.

Why you need Australian tax file number? 

In Australia, all income is taxed by the government. An Australian tax file number (TFN) is required for income tax purposes. 

A TFN helps the government administer taxation and other government programs by providing a unique number to individuals and businesses. Taxes fund public services and programs such as schools, roads, and hospitals.  

Money earned from work, such as wages and salaries, government payments, and investments, such as interest earned on savings accounts, is considered income.  

A temporary visa holder also needs to get a tax file number

Tax file numbers (TFN) are free and serve as an identifier for tax and superannuation purposes. Once you have one, it's yours forever. Whether your name, job, or whether you move across the country or overseas, your TFN will remain the same. 

Depending on your position, you can apply for a TFN. You need TFN if you are one of the following:

Australian Citizens with a passport - individuals aged 15 or older.

Australian Residents and Australian citizens without passports.

Those with foreign passports, permanent migrants, and temporary visitors who already live in Australia and have valid travel documents (visas).

For Australian tax purposes, people living abroad with Australian sourced income are considered as non-residents. Refunds of tax withheld require a TFN.

If unsure about your residency, check on ATO Website.  

Permanent migrants or workers with temporary resident visas, either online, by phone or in person at an ATO Service Centre. You can obtain a TFN online by applying through You need an Australian address and your passport to apply for a TFN.

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An ultimate guide to Tax File Number in Australia

What if I have no or poor English language skill?

Australia is multicultural country; Australian government agencies help you to understand how things work and what you need to do. So, there is translation and interpretation service always available for you. You can contact Translating and interpreting services (TIS National) and ask for translation or interpretation help.  

How to apply online for an Australian Tax File Number

TFN applications can be submitted online in about 20 minutes.

We will be asked some personal information, including your passport number or relevant travel document number (visa)—a postal address in Australia for your TFN.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will send your online tax file number application to the Department of Australian Immigration. Along with the Citizenship (DIAC) for verification, i.e., you hold a valid working visa or a permanent residency visa, and you are physically in Australia.

If you do not have computer access or not confident to apply through online a Centrelink centre or an Australia Post outlet is the best place to apply for your TFN. Even you can apply for TFN via post by filling printed copy of the application. 

How to apply TFN through Australia Post? 

You can apply TFN at Australia Post, for this you need o apply TFN online, print application summary, book an interview at Australia Post (not all some participating Australia Post store provide this service) check from here. attend the interview with your identity documents and sign your application you are done. 

 If you are not able to attend an interview, you'll need to send certified copies of your identity documents by post. Depending on the circumstances of your application, you might need to submit the following documents:

Passports and birth certificates are primary forms of identification.

Additional identification, such as an ATM card, student ID card, or driving license

If you wish to change your TFN details, you will need additional documents such as your marriage certificate or proof that your name has changed.

How much it costs to apply for TFN? 

Applying and obtaining Australian Tax File Number is free does not matter you apply online, in person or through Services Australia or Australia Post. If you are applying, it through a tax and intermediaries they charge their fees in exchange for getting a TFN on your behalf.

TFN is your personal information

TFN is your personal information, in general your TFN remains as your identifier unless changed because of serious identity theft incident. So, it is important to maintain secrecy of your TFN and not to share with many people. Identity fraud as well as identity theft are common crime in Australia so keep your full name, date of birth, address, myGov details, or TFN and passport details secret. 

You can share your TFN to the following people and places:



your bank or financial institution

your employer after you start a job

your super fund

your registered tax agent.

 Frequently Asked Questions for TFN in Australia

1. How long does it take for me to get my tax file number from the Australian Tax Office?

Generally, ATO sends TFN to your address within 28 days of your application. Keep patient and patient and wait for 28 days. Do not make multiple TFN application, it does not make your TFN faster instead it delays your application process. 

2. Can I contact ATO by phone? 

You can contact the ATO by phone at 13 28 61 between 8 am and 6 pm EST, Monday through Friday, if you have not received your TFN after 28 days.

3. Is it necessary to have a tax file number?

Yes, in Australia TFN is essential to get job or government benefits. You do not need to apply for TFN if you are tourist in Australia and your visa do not allow for work.  

4. Do you need to link your bank account with the TFN?

Providing TFN to your bank is not necessary but if you do not provide them, banks will deduct tax at the highest marginal rate for your interest payment. To supply your TFN to the bank go to your account or profile settings and enter your TFN. A space is usually provided to add your TFN.

5. Can I apply TFN from outside Australia?

You can apply TFN although you are outside Australia. You can apply it online. But tax obligation and application process might be different. You will still need a TFN though you live outside of Australia in certain circumstances, such as if your income comes from Australia, you must file an Australian tax return. 


This is not a piece of taxation advice. This is general information about TFN application process. Consult your tax agent for your tax obligations and taxation advice.