Legal and financial requirements


Business structure

You will need to decide on the structure of your business and there are both advantages and disadvantages for each type – such as set-up costs, risk management, legal administrative responsibilities and tax concerns.

See a lawyer or an accountant to help you determine and to set up the best structure for your business and your individual situation.

There are four most common business structures:

  • Sole trader
  • Partnership
  • Company
  • Trust

Tax file number (TFN)

All businesses need a tax file number.

Sole traders - if you have decided to operate as a sole trader you can use your own personal TFN for both the business’s and personal tax responsibilities.

Partnerships, Companies, Trusts – these businesses will need a separate TFN.

You can apply for a TFN when you register for an ABN.

Register your business name

If you are having a name other than your own as the business name, you will need to register it with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC)

When deciding on a name, consider:

  • It’s length and how many words
  • Could the business be sold in the future? Do you want to sell your name?
  • Would it be confused with another business or your competitor?
  • Would people misunderstand what the business is about?
  • Does it suit the brand presence you are trying to portray?
  • Do some market research – talk to your friends/family or potential customers.

Visit ASIC to see if your business name is available.

Apply for an ABN

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit number to assist in the identification of a business.

Not every business needs an ABN, but it assists in identifying you as a business when other businesses order from you and/or invoice you. If you didn’t have an ABN, Pay as You Go (PAYG) tax would need to be withheld from payments you receive from other businesses.

An ABN is required to claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits, claim energy grants credits and obtain an Australian domain name. 

Visit Australian Business Register to apply for an ABN.

Apply for Goods and Services Tax

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a 10% tax on most goods, services and other items.

If you run a business and its income is $75,000 or more ($150,000 or more for non-profit organisations) or you provide taxi travel – you need to register for GST.

If you run a business and its income is less than $75,000, registering for GST is optional.

Visit Australian Taxation Office for more information about GST.

Register them all at once

To save time and effort you can apply to get your business name, ABN, GST and tax file number at the same time at the Australian Business Register. Along with the AUSkey required to access government services online and PAYG for when you start to employ staff.

Register now