Company Registration in Australia | An Expert Guide for Employers

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Starting a business in Australia is an exciting venture that promises access to a robust economy, a skilled workforce, and a supportive business environment. Whether you're a local entrepreneur or from overseas looking to expand your operations, understanding the company registration process is crucial for a smooth and successful start. 

This guide provides a comprehensive, step-by-step walkthrough of how to register your company in Australia, and some key reminders for foreigners desiring to perform business undertakings in the country.

Company Registration in Australia: What is a Company?

In Australia, a company is a distinct legal entity, separate from its owners (shareholders). It has the same rights as a person: it can own property, incur debts, sue, and be sued.

As a distinct entity, the income and losses also belong to the company. Finally, it can employ staff. 


Other Types of Business Structure 

Before proceeding with the company registration in Australia, decide first whether it’s the right business structure for you. The other business structures in the country are:

  • Sole Trader: A sole trader is an individual who owns and operates a business on their own, which means they can’t employ staff. They have unlimited liability, meaning they are personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of the business. This is the simplest and most common business structure in Australia.
  • Partnership: In this structure, two or more individuals share ownership and responsibility for the business. They can employ staff, but the partners themselves cannot be considered as employees. 
  • Trust: It’s a structure where a trustee holds assets for the benefit of beneficiaries. The trustee manages the assets and distributes income or capital to the beneficiaries. 
  • Superannuation: While not strictly a business structure, superannuation funds are a type of trust specifically designed to provide for retirement. They are regulated by the Australian Tax Office and offer various investment options. 


Company Registration in Australia: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a company in Australia involves a structured process to ensure you meet legal requirements and set up your business for success. Here's a breakdown of the steps involved:

Step 1 - Determine the Type of Company You Want

The first step in company registration in Australia is to identify the type of company you want. 

In Australia, Pty Ltd (Proprietary Limited) is the most common type of company, suitable for small to medium-sized businesses with a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. The other types include: 

  • Ltd (Limited) companies are public companies that can be listed on the stock exchange, offering shares to the public and having no limit on shareholders. 
  • NL (No Liability) companies are specific to the mining industry, allowing shareholders to not be personally liable for any unpaid amounts on their shares. While Pty Ltd and Ltd companies provide limited liability to their owners, NL companies offer an additional layer of protection for shareholders in high-risk ventures.


Step 2 - Choose a Company Name

Your company name is a crucial part of your brand identity. It should be unique, memorable, and relevant to your business.

In Australia, there are strict guidelines when it comes to choosing a company name: 

  • Make sure no other company or business has an identical name with what you’ve chosen. However, there are instances when your name can be registered despite being identical to others. Learn more about these instances here
  • Only certain characters are allowed. 
  • Some terms are restricted unless otherwise approved by the government minister. These include “royal,” “bank,” “incorporated,” and “trust.”
  • The company name must show its liability and status (eg. Ltd, Pty Ltd) 
  • It’s possible to reserve a name if you’re not ready to register it yet. 

Here are more resources when it comes to company names in Australia:

Note that checking the trademark is necessary because even if your company name has been registered or reserved, those with the same name may still take legal action against you.   

Step 3 - Decide on a state or territory of registration

Although the registration is country-wide, you still need to choose a state/territory of registration. Essentially, you need two addresses:

  • The registered office address where official documents, communications, and notices would be sent. It must be within Australia. 
  • The principal place of business address, where you conduct the business 

Remember, if you do not occupy the registered office address, you need to obtain the consent of the owner. Also, both addresses MUST NOT be post office box addresses. 

Step 4 - Determine How Your Company Operates 

Company registration in Australia requires you to consider the following: 

  • Replaceable Rules vs. Constitution: Your company's internal management can be governed by either the Replaceable Rules (standard rules outlined in the Corporations Act) or a customised constitution. The Replaceable Rules cover basic aspects like director appointments and shareholder meetings, but a constitution allows for greater flexibility and tailoring to your specific needs.
  • Sole Director/Member Companies: For companies with a single director who is also the sole shareholder, the Replaceable Rules don't apply. You can choose to create a constitution if you prefer, but it's not mandatory. However, if another director or company is appointed, then the Replaceable Rules automatically apply. This can be changed to a constitution later. 

You must also determine the types of share (eg. limited by shares, etc)

Step Description
Determine the Type of Company You Want Identify the type of company: Pty Ltd (most common, suitable for small to medium-sized businesses), Ltd (public companies with no limit on shareholders), or NL (specific to the mining industry with no personal liability for unpaid shares).
Choose a Company Name Select a unique, memorable name that complies with Australian guidelines, ensuring no identical names, using only allowed characters, and avoiding restricted terms unless approved. You can reserve a name if not ready to register.
Decide on a State or Territory of Registration Choose a state/territory of registration and provide two addresses: a registered office address for official documents and a principal place of business address. Both must be within Australia and not PO box addresses.
Determine How Your Company Operates Decide on internal management via Replaceable Rules or a customised constitution. For sole director/member companies, the Replaceable Rules do not apply unless another director or company is appointed.
Fulfil Your Legal Obligations Obtain a Director Identification Number (DIN), keep company information updated, and maintain accurate financial records. Understand your legal duties as a director and shareholder.
Get the Necessary Consents Obtain written consent from directors, secretaries, and members. Ensure at least one director and secretary (for proprietary companies) or two directors (for public companies) reside in Australia. Obtain consent for the registered address if it is not company-owned.
Register Register your company online via the Australian Government Business Registration Service or through a private service provider. If online registration is unavailable, contact ASIC for guidance.
After Company Registration After registration, you will receive an Australian Company Number (ACN), a Certificate of Registration, and a Corporate Key for online account management and updating details.

Step 5 - Fulfil Your Legal Obligations 

Before registering your company, understand your legal duties as a director and shareholder. This includes:

  • Director Identification Number (DIN): Each director must obtain a unique DIN before being appointed.
  • Company Details: It’s your responsibility to keep company information clear and updated. 
  • Financial Obligations and Records: You must pay the required fees, maintain accurate financial records, and report your company's financial performance annually.

Learn more about your company and the law here


Step 6 - Get the Necessary Consents 

Get the written consent of the people who will fill the role of director, secretary and member (a company must have at least 1 member). 

  • For a proprietary company, at least 1 director and secretary must ordinarily reside in Australia. 
  • For a public company, at least 2 directors must ordinarily reside in Australia. 

In addition, you must also obtain the consent of the owner of your company’s registered address (if it doesn’t belong to the company). 

Note that you won’t be required to submit these consent, but you’re obliged to keep it in your records. 

Step 7 - Register 

The next step now is to register your company. Company registration in Australia can be achieved in 2 ways:

  • Online via Australian Government Business Registration Service 
  • Through a private service provider (PSP), which can be your accountant, solicitor, or another company. 

However, there are certain cases when online registration may not be available for your company. If this is the case, you may submit an online enquiry to the Australian Securities and Investment Commissions (ASIC). 


Step 8 - After Company Registration

Once your company is registered, you'll receive:

  • Australian Company Number (ACN): This unique identifier is used in all official dealings. 
  • Certificate of Registration: This document confirms your company's legal existence.
  • Corporate Key. This is a unique number you can use to create an account online and update your details. 

Additional Registrations, Permits, and Licences

Company registration in Australia also consists of additional registrations. However, before you can begin with these registrations, you first need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN). 

ABN is an 11-digit number that identifies your business to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), other government offices, and the public. Not all businesses are eligible to have an ABN, however. For example, a partnership doesn’t require one because the partners have their own ABNs. 

You may apply for an ABN online

Once you have an ABN, you may begin with the additional registrations necessary for your company. These may include:

  • Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG). You need this to process payments and salaries of directors and employees. This is required for the withholding of the necessary taxes. Learn more about PAYG Withholding here
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT). If you provide fringe benefits, you need to pay their equivalent taxes. Learn if you need to register for FBT here
  • Goods and Service Tax (GST). Is your company involved in goods and services? If you expect a turnover of $75,000 or more, GST is a requirement. Learn more about GST here

On top of registration, you also need to know which licences and permits are required for your company. These depend on several things, particularly what industry you’re involved in, where you’re located, payments and withholding, etc. 

For a roadmap on what licences and permits are necessary for your company, you may answer the following questions here


Starting a Business in Australia: What If It’s Not a Company?

Generally, if you choose not to start a company but are interested in another business structure, some steps remain necessary, such as:

  • Choosing a business name 
  • Having a business address
  • Obtaining necessary business permits and licences 
  • Tax registrations (PAYG, GST, etc)

However, there may be some changes. For example - partnerships do not require an Australian Business Number (ABN) because the partners have to use their own ABN.  

Starting a Business in Australia as a Foreigner

As per the official guide, setting up a business and company registration in Australia is similar for local and foreign nationals, except foreigners need to take additional steps to secure the right visa

Note that securing a visa for employment is different from obtaining it when you want to start a business or company specifically. Basically, if you want to run a business in Australia, you MUST BE nominated by a state or territory government.

  1. Submit an expression of interest to the Department of Home Affairs. 
  2. Check if a state or the CEO of Austrade decides to invite you to apply for a visa. You can wait for this invitation or contact them directly. 
  3. Once you get invited, you need to meet certain requirements, submit documents, and follow the regulations. 

A common visa for people who want to run a business in Australia is Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) Visa.  

After this, you have to go through all the necessary steps for business or company registration in Australia. Learn more about starting a business as a foreigner here



Registering a company in Australia involves several key steps, each crucial for establishing a legal and operational foundation for your business. Starting with choosing a business structure, you'll need to select a unique company name, decide on addresses, fulfil your legal obligations, and get the necessary permits and licences. If you’re a foreign national wishing to conduct business undertakings in Australia, you also need to be invited to apply for the right visa. By following these steps diligently, you can ensure a smooth and successful registration, paving the way for your business to thrive in Australia’s dynamic market.

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What is the first step in registering a business in Australia?

The first step is choosing a suitable business structure, such as a sole trader, partnership, or company. This decision impacts your legal obligations and tax responsibilities.

Do I need an Australian Business Number (ABN) to register my company?

Yes, an ABN is essential for identifying your business to the government and facilitating tax and other business dealings. However, there may be cases when your company is not eligible for it.

Can a foreigner register a company in Australia?

Yes, foreigners can register a company in Australia, but they must comply with additional requirements, such as obtaining the appropriate visa and meeting foreign investment regulations.

What are the costs associated with company registration in Australia?

The costs vary depending on the business structure and services used, but typically include registration fees, legal fees, and any necessary licences or permits.

How long does the company registration process take in Australia?

The registration process can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the completeness of your application and the specific requirements of your business.


What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

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Creating an Efficient Recruiting Process

The beginning of the human resource field can be traced to the industrial revolution in the 19th century that transformed economies from ones based on agriculture into economies based on mechanised manufacturing, large-scale industry, and factory systems. The dawn of the industrial age led to the creation of industrial centres and factories characterised by large numbers of people coming to a place of work.

The idea of the human resource function was built on a simple idea by Robert Owen and Charles Babbage, who believed that people were crucial for the success of an organisation. As the organised business grew and the importance of people’s contribution to its success became evident, the organisation started focussing on their recruitment process to get the best people employed.

The emergence of the information age further amplified the importance of people in the success of businesses. The competition to recruit the best people intensifies as demand for talent continues, given the accelerated pace of digital transformation and business automation. The great resignation wave has altered the talent landscape, with companies taking longer to fill the open positions. Companies must become increasingly creative to overcome the challenge of scarce talent due to this new dangerous current.

In this context, an effective recruitment process becomes crucial for the companies in order to sustain the pipeline of specialised, qualified, skilled, and motivated employees for the organisation.

In this report, we discuss:

- What are the core elements of an efficient recruitment process?

- Recruitment marketing

- Expand the scope of candidate search

- Create exceptional candidate experience

- Effective employee referral programme

- Effective candidate evaluation

- Data security, compliance, and reporting

- Maximise automation

- Hiring team collaboration

- How to leverage an efficient recruitment process

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