Starting a business: Business registrations

Business Registrations

When you’re starting a new business, it’s important to understand what business registrations apply to ensure you comply with all the relevant regulations. Your accountant will be able to guide you but here’s a list to get you started:


1.  Register a company

If you have decided to operate through a company structure, your accountant will be able to assist you with the required documentation and registration with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

You can only choose a company name not already registered to another company or as a business name. You can check if your proposed company name is available on ASIC’s website. Once the company is registered, it will be issued with an Australian Company Number (ACN).

If you haven’t decided which business structure to operate through, you can find out about the differences between companies, trusts and sole traders in this article.


2.  Register for an ABN

If you’re a new business, you’ll need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). This can be done through the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service. You will be able to register for a business name and GST at the same time.


3.  Register a business name

A business name is a trading name that helps customers recognise your business.

Before registering a business name, you should either have an ABN or be ready to apply for one.

You should also check that the name is available and that it is able to be registered as a domain name for your website and email. You can check if your name is available and locate a domain name registrar through the Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA).  If you want to register a or domain you’ll need to have an ACN or ABN.

The fees for registering a business name are: $37 for one year or $87 for three years (2020-21 rate).

To keep using your business name you need to renew your registration before the expiry date. If you don’t renew your registration, your business name will be removed from the register and another business will be free to use it.

If you think you might want to trade overseas, you should check the suitability of your business name in other countries.


4.  Register for taxes

If you’ve decided to operate as a sole trader, your business activity will be under your existing individual Tax File Number (TFN).

If you are going to operate as a company, trust or partnership, you will need to apply for a Tax File Number for the business. You can apply for a TFN through the Australian Business Register or your accountant can take care of this for you.

Other taxes you may need to register for are: Goods and Services Tax (GST), Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding, Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), Fuel Tax Credits and Payroll Tax. Again, your accountant can advise you which registrations are applicable to your business as well as take care of the registration process.


5.  Workers Compensation Registration

Workers compensation is a form of insurance payment to employees if they are injured at work or become sick due to their work.

Workers compensation includes payments to employees to cover their wages while they’re not fit for work, medical expenses and rehabilitation.

In Australia, each state and territory has their own regulator that administers and gives advice on workers compensation. You can find out more using these links:

Australian Capital Territory: WorkSafe ACT

New South Wales: State Insurance Regulatory Authority

Northern Territory: NT WorkSafe

Queensland: WorkCover Queensland

South Australia: ReturnToWork SA

Tasmania: WorkCover Tasmania

Victoria: WorkSafe Victoria

Western Australia: WorkCover WA


6.  Workplace health and safety

As a business owner, you have a legal responsibility to manage health and safety in your workplace. To do this, it’s important to understand the health and safety requirements that apply to your business type and location. Each state has its own Work health and safety laws and a regulator to enforce them. You can find information for your state or territory on the website.


7.  Register for licences and permits

Licences and permits either give your business approval to do an activity, or help protect your business and employees.

The types of licences and permits you may need vary by state, local laws and by industry. For instance, if you’re a building and construction industry business in Queensland you may need a Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) Licence before you can carry out any work. You can find information on the licences and permits needed for your business on the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS).


Further help

For everything you need to know in one comprehensive guide, download our Starting a Business Guide. In this free guide, we’ve put all the information in the one place, so you don’t have to go searching. We’ll take you through each step of starting a business, give you options to consider and help you understand what’s ahead.

If you would like some help to get your business off the ground, we invite you to contact us for a chat. You can reach us on (07) 3023 4800 or at

You can find out more about working with Marsh & Partners here. As your Absolute.Account.Ability partner we’re on a mission to make your business life better. We’ll help you set goals for your business, devise an Action Plan to make them happen and meet with you regularly to ensure you stay on track.

Share this article on LinkedIn:

Subscribe to our newsletter:
Get tax updates, business advice and seminar invitations delivered straight to your inbox.