Registering your business
Making sure you have the right registrations is an essential part of setting up a business, and ensures you comply with Australian law.
Understanding registration requirements should be one of the first steps you take to start a business after you’ve tested your idea and decided on the structure or type of business it is. Your business might need a few different types of registrations depending on factors including its structure, size, industry and location. These might include business registrations, like an Australian Business Number (ABN) and tax registrations, like goods and services tax (GST).
Depending on your business, you might also need to apply for other registrations including licenses and permits.
You may wish to check with your business advisor or accountant that you have all requirements.
Use these tools to help you work out which registrations and licenses you need:
- The Australian Government’s Business Registration Service tool can help you work out which business and tax registrations you need.
- The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) can help you identify licences, permits, approval, regulations and codes of practices for your business.
- You can apply for key registrations including an ABN, company number, business name, and taxes online all in the one place.
For more information about different kinds of registrations you might need to start your business, see the guide below.
An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.
You need an ABN if you’re conducting business in Australia. Apply for an ABN for free at any time through the Australian Business Register website.
To register your business as a company, apply for an Australian company number (ACN) from the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). You need to apply for your ACN before you obtain an ABN.
Registering your business name is a momentous step in starting your business.
Also known as your trading name, your business name is what you use to operate your business. It’s the name your customers will call your business and it will most likely appear in any advertising, marketing material and signage promoting your business.
You need to register a business name if you conduct business under a name other than your own. Companies, sole traders and partnerships can choose to trade under their company or individual name, without registering a separate business name or trading name.
You can register for a business name at the same time you apply for an ABN, or you can register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) after you obtain your ABN.
Business names are administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). When you register your business name on the ASIC website, it will be linked to your ABN.
Being registered for the right taxes will help your business administration activities to run smoothly. All businesses need a tax file number (TFN), but you may need other tax registrations depending on the type of business you are running.
You can save money by checking for concessions. You may be eligible for small business tax concessions from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) if your businesses has an annual turnover of less than $10 million.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has developed a Small Business Tax Time Toolkit to help small business owners get it right at tax time, whether they use a registered tax agent or lodge their own tax return. The toolkit includes information about keeping good records, small business concessions, business expenses and more.
Having the correct licences and registrations provides a great foundation for your business, by ensuring you’re meeting legal requirements. You may need a permit to operate from home, to place a mobile van in a certain location, to operate a food business, or if you’re working with hazardous substances.
The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) can help you identify the licences, permits, approval, regulations and codes of practices you need to consider for your business.
ABLIS can help you create a free personalised report about:
- your state or territory, local and Australian government requirements
- licence fees, periods of cover and renewals
- how to apply and renew licences
- where to go for more help and information.
Specialty Utility Licences
Depending on your business, location or industry, you may need to comply with specialised regulations for the use of utilities. For example, businesses that generate trade waste must apply for authorisation before discharging it.
To make sure your business continues to comply with all licencing requirements, regularly check ABLIS and contact utility providers such as SA Water and SA Power Networks.
Insurance reduces your risks and covers your financial losses should an insured risk event occur.
Your business needs insurance to cover risks associated with your liabilities, assets and income.
The type of insurance you need depends on your business and industry.
Your business may have compulsory insurance, such as:
- worker’s compensation insurance to cover your employees
- third party personal insurance, for any motor vehicles you own (through vehicle registration)
- public liability insurance, for certain types of companies and professions.
Other insurances are not compulsory but should be considered.
Liability insurance protects you in cases where you are found liable for damages to others, such as:
- a third-party death or injury
- loss or damage of property or monetary loss as a result of your negligence
- damage or loss as a result of advice you gave, or your provision of unsafe products or services.
You should also consider personal accident and illness insurance so you’re financially secure should an accident or illness prevent you from working.
Read the details on insurance proposal forms and ensure you understand what is included and excluded from a policy.
Consult an expert in the field to help you identify and access the cover you need.
Talk to a number of registered insurance companies and brokers to discuss what is best for your business.
Insurance brokers can look at different insurance companies to help you get the best deal. Check Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) professional register to make sure your broker has a current Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence - they must have this to operate.
For more information about business insurance, visit the Australian Government’s business website.