Registering your business in Australia is a process you must complete before beginning operations in the country. Hive Life has compiled a list of steps to expedite the process.

In Australia, a company is its own legal entity that will allow you to conduct business in the country, and may entitle you to other privileges, like corporate tax rates or limited liability. Australia is a thriving startup hub, and the ecosystem has grown exponentially in the past few years. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up almost half of the country’s employment. In this article, Hive Life will guide you through the process of registering your business in Australia. 

Company Name Selection

The first step of registering your business in Australia is choosing a name for your company. The name cannot be identical to that of an existing company. You can search the availability of your chosen name here. There are some exceptions to this, including if the business name holder is that of an individual or company that is a proposed member of your new business. Certain terms are restricted, including ‘bank,’ ‘trust,’ ‘Royal,’ and ‘incorporated,’ without the approval of a government minister.

You can reserve a company name prior to registration by using Form 410 and submitting it to the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC). The company name you choose must show its legal status and liability of members. If the company’s members’ liability is limited to the amount unpaid on their shares, the name must end with ‘Proprietary Limited,’ and if the members’ liability is unlimited, the company name must end with ‘Proprietary.’ 

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Business Operations

Before registering, you must determine how your company will operate and be governed. Your company can be governed by replaceable rules, its own constitution, or a combination of both. The former are a basic set of rules for managing the company, if said company does not want to have a constitution, meaning you do not have the expense of keeping it updated as laws change. A constitution is a written document that lays out rules in accordance with the law. 

If the proprietary company has only one officeholder, replaceable rules or a constitution are not necessary. If another director or member is appointed, then replaceable rules automatically apply to the company, which can be changed to a constitution at a later date.

A proprietary company must have no more than 50 non-employee shareholders, and may be either limited by shares or be an unlimited company with share capital. 

Officeholder Obligations

The officeholder for the company must follow the requirements of the Corporations Act, ensuring company details are up to date, company records and details are maintained on the register, and that the appropriate lodgement fees and annual review fees are paid. 

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Official Records

Written consent is required for individuals who fulfill the roles of Director, Secretary, and Member. At least one director and secretary of your proprietary company must reside in Australia, and at least two directors of a public company must ordinarily reside in the country, as well.

It is also important to obtain the written consent of the owner of your registered office address for you to conduct business there, if your company does not own said address. If you are looking for a flexible space to conduct business in Australia, consider a coworking space.

The written consent forms do not have to be submitted to ASIC, but must be maintained in company records. In addition, a register must be kept of details of all members of the business. 

Registering Your Company

You can register your business via the Australian Government Business Registration Service (BRS) online. The BRS enables you to register several business and tax registrations in one place, making the process that much easier to accomplish. 

However, there are certain restrictions for online registration, including a company with unlimited liability, a company with the individual share value more than four decimal places, and more, which can be found here. If this is the case, you must submit a request to register on paper. To determine whether this is necessary, send your proposed company name and type, the exception applicable to your registration, your transaction reference number (if known), and any error message you received (if known) to this online enquiry page. Where appropriate, you will be sent a copy of the business registration form to be filled out offline. 

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Once your business registration application has been processed and approved, you will receive an Australian Company Number (ACN), which can be used to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). You will officially be registered, and you will receive a certificate of registration. You will also receive a corporate key – a number unique to your business, which is needed to create an account online and update details, if needed. 

Steps After Company Registration

Once you have registered your company, you must ensure that your company’s name is on display wherever the company conducts business and is open to the public, the company’s ACN/ABN is displayed on any documents the company publishes, and the company’s details are kept up to date.

Having gone through the steps in this article, you are ready to conduct business in Australia’s innovative startup community. 

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