Licences are an important part of running a business. For some industries, there are specific licences business owners need to attain before they can start operating, otherwise they could be in breach of certain laws and regulations. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the licences certain industries demand as well as some other legal requirements you may need to know about. 

What Is A Licence?

A licence is essentially legal permission to do something. In the context of businesses, a licence allows you to run a business in a certain industry or provide a specific service. 

Much like how a drivers licence permits you to drive a car, different types of businesses licences give permission to conduct certain activities. In order to attain a licence, individuals usually need to prove they meet the requirements. 

The type of licence you need will depend on the industry, operations and location of your business.

What Licence Do I Need For My Business?

Different industries will have varied requirements for licences. You can look for which licence you might need for your particular business here. We’ve elaborated on some common business licence obligations below. 

Construction Licence

Construction is a broad industry covering a range of different work. There is no singular licence that can permit a business to carry out construction work. 

Depending on the kind of work your business may be engaging in, you might want to look into attaining: 

  • A building licence
  • Heavy machinery licence 
  • Use of land licence
  • High risk work work licence 

Food And Beverages 

Food and beverage regulations depend on the state. In NSW, if you’re covered by the Food Act 2003 (NSW), you will need to attain a NSW Food Authority licence

In Queensland, on the other hand, you may need a food business licence from the  Brisbane City Council before you start serving customers. In addition to this, you will likely need to register with your local council – it’s crucial to do your research and get all the necessary documents in order so your business can run smoothly. 

If you’re thinking of operating a food truck, you will likely need a separate licence for that. In Sydney, a mobile food vending business permit is required -again, be sure to check the regulations for your local area! 

Liquor Licences 

Unless your business falls under one of the exemptions, you will need a liquor licence if your business sells alcohol. 

There are different types of licences depending on your business set up, such as an on premise licence, club licence, hotel licence or special event licence. You can find out which one you will need here

The person serving the alcohol will also need to have completed a course known as Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA). If you have a venue that will be conducting gambling activities while serving alcohol, then a completion of the Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) course is also a prerequisite. 

Legal penalties can be enforced on venues that don’t comply with licensing and training requirements for liquor – it’s crucial to have this covered properly! 

Financial Services

An Australian financial services licence is required if your business plans on conducting business in the financial sector. This includes services that: 

  • Engage with financial products
  • Provide financial advice 
  • Are involved in crowdfunding
  • Manage investment schemes 
  • Manage insurance related claims 

Along with this, the appropriate qualification to work in the financial field will be required – you can apply for a financial services licence online

Real Estate

In order to run a real estate business, you will need  a NSW Corporation License. Among a few other things, real estate activities include:

  • Engaging in the sale of property
  • Auctioning
  • Property management
  • Working with stocks
  • Strata or community management

If your business operations undertake any one of these activities, then you will likely need a cooperation licence as well as a qualified real estate agent (we’ll discuss this in more depth later).    


Hotels require a number of licences as there are multiple operations going on inside the one institution. If you’re considering opening your own hotel, you will need to look up the local regulations and see what licences you will need for matters such as: 

  • Food and beverage
  • Alcohol 
  • Recreational activities
  • Safety  

Therapeutic Goods

A business that sells therapeutic goods should be registered with the Therapeutic Goods Association. The website provides detailed information on the kinds of goods that can be sold and brought into Australia as well as any requirements associated with them. 

In order to become registered, you will need a client identification number- more information can be found on their website.  

It’s also important to familiarise yourself with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, more commonly known as TGA. This sets out rules and guidelines around how your business can advertise therapeutic goods online. 

After all, the health sector is slightly stricter in the way they regulate businesses and their practices. 

What Other Requirements Should I Know About?

Business licences are one of the most important requirements for running any business. 

However, some industries require individuals to go through a security check. If you are looking to hire, it’s not uncommon to require a working with children check or police check. 

Working With Children Check

A Working With Children Check is a prerequisite for any person employed in an industry where work entails coming into contact with children. This work can either be voluntary or paid employment. 

The check will look at a person’s criminal history and any previous misconduct at a place of employment to determine whether or not they are suitable to be around children. A working with children check lasts up to five years. 

Which Industries Require A Police Check?

There are a number of industries that require people to go through a police check prior to gaining employment. These often include work in the: 

  • Health industry 
  • Legal sector
  • Education/training 
  • Public service 

The police check shows legal matters that a person may have gone through in the past or is currently dealing with such as criminal trials, court orders or bonds. 

In NSW, a police check will not show past minor convictions that have been spent. The check is meant to give employers enough information to decide whether or not someone can be a trustworthy employee. 

How Long Is A Police Check Valid For?

Police checks are regulated by state laws – it’s best to check for your individual state. 

In NSW, a police check certificate is valid for five years. After that amount of time, the information is considered to be outdated and individuals are required to attain an updated one. 

Despite police checks being regulated by state laws, matters related to a police check from any part of Australia will show up on it. 

Do My Employees Need A Particular Licence To Work?

As we’ve touched on above, individual agents working in particular fields are often required to hold their own licences. For example, construction workers will often need a white card, and in real estate, a real estate licence is required. 

Bartenders should have the appropriate RSA training and those employed within a financial institution should be qualified to hold their position. 

Prior to hiring any employees, make sure they have the relevant licences, checks and qualifications to be a member of your staff. 

What If My Business Is Online?

If your business is operating online, then you should look into getting all the additional legal requirements in place that are needed to have a secure, online presence. This includes:

Different businesses will have their own requirements, so feel free to contact us for more specific advice. 

If your business wants to licence certain Intellectual Property, you may want to draft an IP Licence that is tailored to your specific arrangement. Our expert IP lawyers can help you out with this – get in touch today! 

Key Takeaways

Running a business means taking care of your legals first, and licences are a huge part of this. Not doing so can jeopardise your business’ legitimacy and compliance with Australian laws, so it’s important to be on top of any licences or permits you may need. 

To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • A licence gives permission to conduct a particular activity 
  • In business, there are many different types of licences required for both the business and the staff 
  • Business licences can include liquor licences, commercial licences, building licences or a commercial licence
  • Individuals working within your business may need to hold special licences, training or qualifications 
  • Police check and working with children checks may also be required 
  • For online business, additional legal online policies should also be considered
  • When dealing with IP, you may need an IP Licence to provide legal permission for others to use your IP on your terms

If you would like a consultation on attaining a licence for your business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or for a free, no-obligations chat.

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw's expert lawyers make legal services affordable and accessible for business owners. We're Australia's fastest growing law firm and operate entirely online.

(based on Google Reviews)
Do you need legal help?
Get in touch now!

We'll get back to you within 1 business day.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles
How To Start A BPO Company 
How To Start A Crane Company
How To Start A Tutoring Business