What is GST Number in India: A Complete Details

What is GST Number in India

A Goods and Services Tax (GST) Number, officially known as a GST Identification Number (GSTIN), is a unique identifier assigned to business entities registered under the GST regime in India. This comprehensive tax system was introduced on July 1, 2017, replacing several indirect taxes with a unified tax structure to eliminate the cascading effect of taxes and to ensure a seamless flow of credit throughout the value chain. The introduction of GST represented a significant shift in India’s indirect tax framework, aiming to create a single, national market, enhance the ease of doing business, and make the tax system more efficient and straightforward.

Understanding GSTIN

A GSTIN is a 15-digit alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies businesses registered under the GST law. The structure of the GSTIN is designed to incorporate essential details about the taxpayer, facilitating proper administration and compliance under the GST regime. The first two digits represent the state code as per the Indian Census 2011, which helps in identifying the state where the business is registered. The next ten digits are the PAN (Permanent Account Number) of the business entity or the owner, ensuring a link with the tax department’s PAN-based system. The thirteenth digit denotes the entity number of the same PAN holder in a state, allowing for multiple registrations under the same PAN in different states or for different business verticals within the same state. The fourteenth digit is currently set to ‘Z’ by default, and the last digit is a checksum for error detection.

Registration Process

The GST registration process is a critical step for businesses to become compliant with the GST laws. It is mandatory for businesses whose turnover exceeds the threshold limit prescribed under the GST Act, which is currently set at INR 40 lakhs for goods and INR 20 lakhs for services, with some variations for special category states. Registration can be done online through the GST portal, which requires the submission of various documents, including PAN, business registration proof, address proof, bank account statements, and the details of the authorized signatories. Upon successful verification of the application by the tax authorities, the GSTIN is issued.

Benefits of GSTIN

The introduction of GSTIN has brought about several benefits, streamlining the tax administration process and enhancing transparency:

  1. Unified System: GSTIN has created a single, unified platform for all indirect tax-related processes, including registration, tax payment, compliance, and refunds. This has significantly reduced the complexity of tax compliance for businesses.
  2. Improved Compliance: The unique identification through GSTIN facilitates better compliance monitoring by the tax authorities. It enables the tracking of transactions across the supply chain, ensuring that tax liabilities are accurately calculated and paid.
  3. Ease of Doing Business: With GSTIN, businesses can easily verify their GST registration status and that of their suppliers and customers. This simplifies the process of claiming input tax credits (ITC), as credits can only be claimed on supplies received from registered entities.
  4. Elimination of Tax Evasion: The transparency and accountability enforced by the GSTIN system help in reducing tax evasion. The matching of invoices submitted by suppliers and recipients ensures that all taxable transactions are recorded and taxed accordingly.
  5. Facilitation of Digital Economy: The GSTIN, being part of a digital-first approach, promotes the adoption of digital technology in tax administration. This not only reduces paperwork but also makes compliance easier and more efficient for businesses.

Structure and Significance of GSTIN

The GSTIN is a critical component of the GST system. It serves not just as an identification number but also as a compliance mechanism for businesses. The structure of the GSTIN is as follows:

  1. First two digits: Represent the state code as per the Indian Census 2011. Each state has a unique code.
  2. Next ten digits: The PAN (Permanent Account Number) of the business or the proprietor.
  3. Thirteenth digit: Denotes the entity number of the same PAN holder in a state.
  4. Fourteenth digit: Currently defaulted to ‘Z.’
  5. Fifteenth digit: A checksum digit for error detection.

This structure ensures that the GSTIN is not just a random number but one that carries significant information about the business, including its state of operation and PAN.

Impact on the Economy and Future Directions

The introduction of GST and the GSTIN system has had a profound impact on the Indian economy, enhancing the ease of doing business, fostering a common market across states, and increasing government revenues. It has reduced the tax burden on consumers, increased transparency, and minimized evasion.

Looking ahead, the focus is on further simplifying GST compliance, leveraging technology to automate and streamline processes, and expanding the GST base to include excluded sectors. The goal is to enhance revenue collection while reducing the compliance burden on businesses.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite its benefits, the implementation of GSTIN has faced challenges, particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that may not have the resources or expertise to comply with the new system. The government and GST Council have taken several steps to address these issues, such as simplifying the return filing process, introducing a composition scheme for small taxpayers, and providing extensive training and support through GST Seva Kendras.

The Future of GSTIN

The GST regime, with GSTIN at its core, is an evolving system. The government continues to work on enhancing the GST portal’s capabilities. Improving the user experience, and expanding the scope of GST to include sectors that are currently exempt or outside its purview. The focus is on further simplifying compliance. Especially for small businesses, and leveraging technology to make the GST system more robust and fraud-resistant.

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The GSTIN is a cornerstone of the GST regime, playing a critical role in transforming India’s indirect tax landscape. By providing a unique identifier for each registered business, it has facilitated a more streamlined, transparent, and efficient tax administration process. While there have been challenges in its implementation, continuous efforts by the government to refine the system have led to significant improvements. As the GST regime matures, the GSTIN will continue to be an essential tool in achieving the objectives of a unified market, reduced tax evasion, and a more inclusive and equitable economic growth in India.


Q1. What is a GST Number?

Ans: A GST Number or GSTIN is a 15-digit alphanumeric code that uniquely identifies businesses registered under the GST law. It’s used by the government to track GST payments and compliance.

Q2. Who needs a GST Number?

Ans: Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding the threshold limit (Rs. 20 lakhs for service providers and Rs. 40 lakhs for suppliers of goods, with variations for special category states) are required to register for GST and obtain a GST Number. Additionally, certain businesses, regardless of their turnover. Such as those involved in inter-state supply, e-commerce, and those required to pay tax under reverse charge, must register for GST.

Q3. How can I apply for a GST Number?

Ans: Businesses can apply for a GST Number through the official GST portal (https://www.gst.gov.in/). The process involves filling out an application form (Form GST REG-01), submitting necessary documents, and completing the verification process.

Q4. What documents are required for GST registration?

Ans:  The primary documents required include:

  • PAN card of the business/entity
  • Proof of business registration or incorporation certificate
  • Identity and address proof of promoters/directors
  • Address proof of the business location
  • Bank account statement/cancelled cheque
  • Digital signature
Q5. How long does it take to get a GST Number?

Ans:  After submitting the GST registration application along with the necessary documents, the GST Number is typically issued within 7 working days, provided there are no discrepancies or errors in the application.

Q6. Can I have multiple GST Numbers?

Ans:  Yes, businesses operating in multiple states or having multiple business verticals within the same state need to obtain separate GST Numbers for each registration.

Q7. Is there a fee for GST registration?

Ans: No, the government does not charge any fee for GST registration. The process is entirely free of charge.

Q8. How to check the validity of a GST Number?

Ans:  The validity of a GST Number can be verified through the GST portal by using the ‘Search Taxpayer’ option. You can input the GSTIN to check the details and status of the registration.

Q9. What happens if I don’t register for GST?

Ans:  Failing to register for GST when required can result in penalties, including fines and prosecution. It’s crucial for businesses that meet the criteria for registration to comply with GST laws.

Q10. Can a GST Number be cancelled?

Ans:  Yes, a GST Number can be cancelled voluntarily by the taxpayer or compulsorily by the tax authorities under certain conditions. Such as discontinuation of business or failure to file returns.

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