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Australian Bureau of Statistics Business Register
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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


What is the Business Register?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Business Register is a list of organisations which undertake economic activity in Australia. The data on the ABS Business Register is primarily sourced from the Australian Business Register (ABR), the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and via ABS profiling of large, and/or complex businesses. The ABS uses an Economic Units Model (See Appendix 1) on the Business Register to describe the characteristics of businesses, and the structural relationships between related businesses. The unit record information on the ABS Business Register is not available for release outside of ABS.


Why is it important to have a Business Register?

The ABS Business Register provides a frame for most ABS economic surveys to enable a consistent, coherent, point-in-time picture of the Australian economy. Data is extracted from the ABS Business Register on a quarterly basis, producing the "Common Frame". Subsequently, survey frames are extracted from the Common Frame and supplied to various areas of the ABS on cyclical intervals.


Which organisations are included on the Register?

The scope of the ABS Business Register is all organisations, with an active ABN on the ABR, undertaking productive activity in Australia’s economic territory. This strategy ensures non-employing business are reliably identified. The relatively insignificant economic activity of organisations which fall below the threshold for needing to register for an ABN (annual turnover of less than $75,000 or $150,000 for non-profit organisations) and have chosen not to apply for an ABN, remain outside the conceptual scope of the ABS Business Register. environment. The ABS Business Register's comprehensive record of ABNs also includes cancelled ones.


    Conceptual framework

How is the Business Register maintained?

The ABS Business Register is a dynamic database that is updated daily via profiling activity and monthly using ATO and ABR data. The characteristics and structural relationships of organisations on the ABS Business Register are described using an Economic Statistics Units Model (see Appendix 1). The Economic Units Model defines organisations by enterprise group, type of activity, location and legal units to enable organisations to provide data to the ABS at suitable levels of detail.

In order to maintain the ABS Business Register, the ABS profiles large, complex and economically significant organisations and structures them to accord with the Economic Units Model. These groups are known as the Profiled population. The remainder of ABN registrants are assumed to have simple structures. They are regarded as single legal entity and single enterprise group. These units are known as the Non-profiled population. The two populations are mutually exclusive and cover all organisations in Australia which have registered for an ABN.

    Main outputs
The main outputs derived from the ABS Business Register are:
  • survey frames for use in ABS economic data collection
  • information to support ABS economic survey processes including data editing
  • a dataset that is the main input to the annual publication Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0). This publication provides data relevant to users interested in understanding businesses that actively trade in goods or services
  • aggregate business structure reports for internal analysis and research and to meet client requests by Australian and state government agencies and industry associations at the aggregate level
  • infrastructure to support the use of administrative economic data.


A range of classifications are used by products published from the ABS Business Register:

An Economic Units Model is used by the ABS to describe the structure of Australian businesses and other organisations. It is not practicable for the ABS Economic Units Model to be applied to all ABR registrants as such is organised into two parts; the profiled population, and the Non-Profiled Population.

The units model consists of four types of statistical units.

Units can be described as statistical or real world units:
(a) statistical units
i. Enterprise Group
ii. type of activity (TAU) unit, i.e. the production units

(b) real world units
i. location units i.e. the operating addresses
ii. legal units, i.e. the legal entity, represented in most cases by a single ABN.

Diagram 1 depicts the logical hierarchical relationships between these unit types.

Diagram 1: ABS Economic Units Model


The Legal Entity (LE) statistical unit is defined as a unit covering all the operations in Australia of an entity which possesses some or all of the rights and obligations of individual persons or corporations, or which behaves as such in respect of those matters of concern for economic statistics. Examples of legal entities include companies, partnerships, trusts, sole (business) proprietorships, government departments and statutory authorities. Legal entities are institutional units.

The Enterprise Group (EG) is an institutional unit covering all the operations within Australia's economic territory of legal entities under common control. Control is defined in Corporations legislation. Majority ownership is not required for control to be exercised.

The Type of Activity Unit (TAU) is a producing unit comprising one or more legal entities, sub-entities or branches of a legal entity that can report productive and employment activities via a minimum set of data items. Only a small number of data items are required to be available on a quarterly basis. The data items are:
  • Total capital expenditure;
  • Income from the sale of goods and services;
  • Wages and salaries;
  • Total inventories; and,
  • Total purchases and selected expenses.

A TAU can also be formed in situations where only some data items are available directly from accounts and good quality estimates can be provided.

The activity of the unit should be as homogeneous as possible. If accounts sufficient to approximate Industry Value Added (IVA) are available at the ANZSIC Subdivision level, a TAU will be formed.

Ideally, all TAUs are constructed so that two-digit ANZSIC (Subdivision) homogeneity is observed. This ensures that good quality industry estimates can be calculated by the ABS at that level. However, not all businesses are able to supply a complete set of accounts for every ANZSIC Subdivision in which they have activity.

Where a business cannot supply adequate data to form a TAU for an individual ANZSIC Subdivision, a TAU will be formed which contains activity in two or more ANZSIC Subdivisions.

A Location is a single, unbroken physical area, occupied by an organisation, at which or from which, the organisation is engaged in productive activity on a relatively permanent basis, or at which the organisation is undertaking capital expenditure with the intention of commencing productive activity on a relatively permanent basis at some time in the future.

The location statistical unit is a new unit to the economic units model. It is defined as a producing unit comprised of a single, unbroken physical area from which an organisation is engaged in productive activity on a relatively permanent basis, or at which the organisation is undertaking capital expenditure with the intention of commencing productive activity on a relatively permanent basis at some time in the future.

In other words, the location statistical unit is the production activity that is undertaken at a particular set of geospatial coordinates/address.

The key attributes of the location statistical unit are:
Address; and
Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS).

These attributes describe the nature and size of the production activity and the geospatial data which locates the address.

The Business Register Unit is currently working through how the functionality on the ABS BR might be used to hold the Location Statistical Unit. It is envisaged that the Location will be populated using branch (business address) information collected by the ABR and supplemented with information from other administrative sources. Initially it will not include industry or size dimensions.

Below are some of the terms referred to in this page:

Australia's economic territory
    The economic territory of Australia consists of:
    • Geographic Australia which includes Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island;
    • Norfolk Island;
    • Australian Antarctic Territory;
    • Heard Island and McDonald Islands;
    • Coral Sea Islands; and,
    • Australia's territorial enclaves overseas
    The joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) is considered joint territory between Australia and East Timor.
      Common frame
        The Common frame is a 'snapshot' of the ABS Business Register at a point in time under certain scoping requirements. It serves as a list of active statistical units (organisations) at that point in time from both the profiled and non-profiled populations, for input into survey frame production. A new Common Frame is created every quarter in order to provide survey areas with the most accurate and up to date list of units for potential selection into surveys.

        Non-profiled population
        The list of organisations on the ABS Business Register that are maintained and updated through ATO and ABR administrative data.

        Profiled population
        The list of organisations on the ABS Business Register that are maintained and updated through direct contact with the organisation via a process called Profiling. Profiling is the process of determining the statistical structure of larger enterprise groups (including business structure, employment, ANZSIC etc) and maintaining this information up to date. Profiling is carried out by officers of the ABS and can be undertaken via mail, telephone or in person. If profiling is undertaken via mail, information is collected through the "Update of Business Structure" survey. To find out more about business surveys in general, please refer to Business FAQs)

        Survey Frame
        A survey frame is a list of all organisations which meet the requirements for inclusion in a particular survey. A sample of organisations is then selected from the survey frame for survey purposes using approved sampling techniques.

        For More Information
        Please refer to the National Information and Referral Service (NIRS) PH: 1300 135 070 or visit the ABS website:


          Comments and/or Other Regions


          Frequency comments
          The ATO supplies ABN data to the ABS on a monthly basis. The ABS uses personal or mail profiling to maintain the Profiled population. A new Common Frame is created every quarter in order to provide survey areas with the most accurate and up to date list of units for potential selection into surveys.


        The introduction of the New Tax System in mid 2002, allowed the ABS to change its economic statistics model, resulting in the development of the ABSBR. this units model enables the ABS to take advantage of information collected by the ATO for the majority of businesses, requiring the ABS to directly collect information from a relatively small number of large , complex and diverse businesses. The first set of quarterly Common Frames (a snapshot of the ABSBR) using this economic statistics model was produced in September 2002.


          Data availability comments

          22/01/2015 12:36 PM

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