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Company Formation in Australia


Company Formation in Australia

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Australia Company Formation

So you've decided to start a business in Australia and researched your market. Now it's time to decide how you will register and set up the business. What is the best, most viable option for your company, your products, and yourself? Which is the path of least resistance?

Here are your typical options when starting a business in Australia:

Company formation in Australia is fairly short with the following 2 stages:

  • Complete and submit an Application for Registration as an Australian Company. Obtain a certificate of incorporation along with an Australian company number. This takes 1 day and costs approximately $400.
  • Apply for an Australian Business Number online with the Tax Authority. This takes one day.

The major types of business ownership are:

Sole Trader

This business is owned by only one person. The company is permitted employ staff, but there is a single name to it. Sole traders include many tradesmen, artisans, freelancers, other professionals working for themselves, and also small retailers.

The main benefits are:

  • They are easy and relatively inexpensive to set up
  • The owner has complete control
  • The owner receives all profits
  • Reports aren't required by outside parties unless applying for loans and tax returns

Disadvantages are:

  • It is hard for owner to take time off for holidays or illness
  • It is comparatively harder to get financial help


This is any business with between two and twenty members. It can be incorporated without any particular legal processes being followed. That said, it is usually erudite to have a written contract before starting activities. This can outline such things as division of profits and losses, exit strategy and holidays.

Benefits are:

  • Skills and resources of owners are readily available
  • You can reduce tax liabilities within a family
  • It is comparatively easy and inexpensive to set up
  • Liability is shared between partners

Disadvantages are:

  • Conflict between partners, which is more common than you think
  • Often, the company dissolves with death of a partner


A company is a disparate entity to its owners and operates under its own name. The members of a company are shareholders and the company is managed by Directors.

There are two forms of company: public and private. A public company is usually traded on the stock market and the public is permitted to buy shares. A minimum of five shareholders is compulsory.

A private company is uncommonly listed on the stock market, and has limitations as to who can buy shares. Family companies are invariably private.

The benefits are:

  • Owners and company are disparate legal entities, so shareholders are not responsible for any debts and losses
  • Companies have different tax rates to individuals
  • Selling shares to the public can raise capital for setting up the company
  • It takes between two to four weeks to set up a company
  • You have the right to sell the company as an entity
  • Changes in ownership can be made without having to set up a new business

A disadvantage is:

  • Company law is intricate, shareholders may need to pay solicitors, accountants and managers to assist with any problems


Not dissimilar to a company, but formed by people with the common aim of working together. Profits made by cooperatives can be distributed between the members or used to improve the cooperative in some way. Cooperatives are covered by the Cooperatives Act and must be aware of the many rules and regulations of the Justice Department.

Registration Process

  • Decide on your structure
  • Choose a name
  • Complete and submit application (see below)
  • Get commemorative record of registration (optional)
  • The application will ask you for the following:
  • The proposed company name (if the company does not have a proposed company name, the name on registration will be its ACN)
  • The class and type of company
  • The registered office details
  • The principal business office details
  • Director and secretary details
  • Share structure details
  • Members' share details

Offshore Companies

By choosing to incorporate an offshore company, business owners and investors can set-up a business outside the jurisdiction of its operations. Offshore companies are traditionally, but not exclusively, incorporated for lower fees and taxes. Business owners must abide the regulations of the offshore jurisdiction, and must not trade within the jurisdiction.

The benefits are vast. As aforesaid, reduced tax and fees are often big factors when considering offshore incorporation. A company may also choose and offshore location to:

  • Simplify set-up and maintenance - entrepreneurs may find bureaucracy and red tape less of an obstacle in offshore jurisdictions
  • Assume anonymity - the names of owners and directors are not for public record, and references to the company may only be made in its registered agent
  • Ensure legal protection - for instance, some jurisdictions favour corporate governance, meaning a company is only liable to offshore laws as opposed to those in its areas of operation
  • Protect assets - business owners may opt to arrange their assets and transactions in such a way that protects them from liability

Traditional locations for offshore incorporation are tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Monaco. Other favoured areas include India, the Bahamas, Dubai, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Seychelles, Marshall islands, Delaware, Turks & Caicos Islands, Hong Kong, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

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