Business registration in Australia involves a variety of things, from drafting the right documents to registering your IP with the right governing body. Essentially, it will ensure you’re registered with ASIC as a business under the Corporations Act 2001, making it easier for you to comply with rules around taxes and updating documents. 

Before you make things official, it’s important that you take all the right steps, keeping in mind your specific business structure and the nature of your activities. 

This article will cover what you need to know about the process of registering your business. 

What Is Business Registration?

Business registration is the process of legally entering your company into the national database so there is a record of it for tax purposes, fees and annual checks. It’s basically the first serious step in your business venture because you will be registering your business with the relevant government bodies. They’ll have access to your business details (and potentially your personal details, depending on your structure). 

It also involves paying certain fees so that you have certain certificates, like a Record of Registration

In order to have a legitimately running business, you will need to register it. Business registration is done online on the business registration service website. 

When you Register Your Business, you will need to provide information about your business. This will include things such as the name of the business, the nature of  your business activities, addresses, contact details of relevant personnel and any proof of identity. 

Why Do I Need To Register My Business?

Registering your businesses is essential in having a legitimate, legal business. It’s also important so that you can pay the relevant taxes, remain subject to the Corporations Act and other important pieces of legislation, like the Australian Consumer Law

What Do I Need to Consider When Registering My Business? 

Business Structure 

When you first register your business, the process will largely depend on the structure you choose. There are three main types of business structures: 

  • Sole trader – an individual running their own business 
  • Partnership – two or more owners of the business.
  • Company – a more sophisticated structure where the business is a separate legal entity

It’s important to understand which business structure is right for you as each one has its pros and cons. You’ll need to think about your intended business activities, size, complexity and financial capacity before you finalise your structure. 

For example, if you want to keep your business small, you may want to choose a sole trader structure. This is because it’s not as costly to set up as a company and is certainly not as complex to manage. 

However, you’ll need to keep in mind that you’ll have unlimited liability. So, if the business runs into trouble, you may be personally responsible for repaying any money or debts the business owes. This requires more caution around the types of transactions you’re entering into, particularly ones that carry higher levels of risk. 

Choosing your business structure will also determine what types of taxes you’ll be paying and other obligations you might have under the Corporations Act

Do I Get An ABN Or ACN? 

Whether you get an Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN) will depend on the structure of your business. If you are operating as a sole trader or under a partnership, then an ABN will suffice. However, if you are operating as a company or any other dual structures that qualify your business as a company, then you will also need an ACN.  

Make sure you identify the structure you want to operate your business under prior to registering it so you can be aware of the registration numbers you will need. 

Business Name

The business name is the identity your venture will operate under. To Register A Business Name, you’ll need to visit the ASIC website and complete the process online. 

You don’t need to register a business name if you’re operating under your own name. However, if you’re using another name, you will need to register your business name with ASIC. You’ll need to go onto the Business Name Register and check that the name you want to use is not already taken. 

Once you have found a name that is currently not in use, you can then fill out the relevant details, submit the form and once it has been approved you will receive your business name in the mail. 

It’s important that you’ve done all of these preliminary steps before you actually go ahead and Register Your Business Name

Can I Change My Business Name? 

Yes, your business name can be changed through the ASIC website. However, just like any other change you make to your company details, you’ll need to submit a certain form to do so – our lawyers can guide you through this process (you can read more about the services we offer later). 

When I Register My Business Name, Do I Own It? 

It’s important to note that registering a business name does not mean you own that name. It simply allows you to use that name for your business operations. If you are interested in owning your business name so that no one else can use it, then you will need to look into trademarking

When you Register A Trade Mark, this gives you the exclusive legal right to use that name as you wish, and there will be legal consequences if anyone tries to use it. When this happens, this is where Trade Mark Opposition can start. 

For example, Aria starts her own smoothie business and attracts a lot of customers for her signature smoothies. A few months after the business opens, a similar business using a name and logo much like hers begins selling fruit infused teas. Frustrated, Aria consults a lawyer who determines there isn’t much she can do as Aria hadn’t trademarked her logo or name. 

In order to avoid the potential pitfalls of not securing your intellectual property, it’s best to get your IP sorted in the early stages of starting a business. Our legal experts at Sprintlaw aid businesses everyday in getting their IP registered as a trademark – you can read more about our services later. 

Fees and Taxes For Business Registration

During the registration process, you can simultaneously register to apply for the relevant taxes that will apply such as fringe benefits, Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding or Goods and Services Tax (GST). It’s imperative to be clear on the kind of business you will be running and as a result, the taxes that will pertain. For example, a business will likely not have to worry about GST taxes unless they have a turnover of more than $75,000 per annum.

What If I Want To Register A Foreign Company In Australia?

Registering A Foreign Company In Australia can be done in one of two ways: 

  • Establishing a subsidiary company 
  • Registering a branch 

The method you choose will depend on your particular business. A foreign company will still need to go through Australian regulators to expand their business here. 

For example, if you’re starting a branch, you will need to register with ASIC and apply for an Australian Registered Body Number (ABRN). Similarly, when establishing a subsidiary company, the business will need to apply through ASIC and ensure there is at least one local director employed within the company. 

Next Steps

There’s a lot of considerations when registering a business. However, the key takeaways here are as follows:

  • Identify your business structure before you register with ASIC
  • Make sure you’ve searched the Business Name Register to avoid potential disputes 
  • Protect your IP by registering a trade mark for your business name or logo 
  • Notify ASIC if you want to make changes to your business details

A legal professional can help with this to ensure your business receives the best start possible. If you want to register your business, we offer the following services:

If you would like a consultation on your options regarding anything that was discussed above or any other questions you may have, our team of legal consultants are always happy to chat you through your options. 
Whether you need help with business registration or contracts to hit the ground running, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

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