19th May, 2022
Whether you’re a sole trader or launching a company, there are certain things you’ll need to register for to remain compliant with business regulators.
Registering your business isn’t just necessary, it’s straightforward.
By completing just a few, quick applications, you can let the government and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) know you’re operating a legal business entity.
Quick links for registering a business:
Before getting started with registering your business, there are a few things you’ll want to get right: the availability of your business name, as well as any trade marks you might need and confirming the business structure you intend to operate as.
Checking your business name against Business.gov.au’s Business Name Check will show you if your name is available, as well as other similar business names already registered.
If your business name is already registered, you’ll need to select a new one.
Trade marks provide exclusive ownership of a brand and likeness.
Having a trade mark is different to registering a business, so you should also check whether your business name or brand infringes on some else’s legal right to the name before registering your business name or seeking your own trade mark.
Run an initial check on whether your business name or brand is trade marked by using IP Australia’s trade mark checker.
Make sure you choose the correct business structure to suit your business requirements.
Below is a snapshot from ASIC’s website highlighting the main differences between each type of business structure:
|Complexity of business structure||Simple||Moderate||Complex||Highly complex|
|Cost||Low||Medium||Medium to high||High|
|Legal obligations||Low||Low to medium||High||Medium|
|Separate legal entity||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Liability||Unlimited||Unlimited||Limited||Limited (with a corporate trustee)|
Business.gov.au has a ‘Help me decide‘ tool that’s designed to assist new business starters select a business structure, as well as the specific registrations you’ll need to consider for each.
MYOB also recommends working with qualified advisors in legal, financial and accounting professions whenever making important business decisions.
READ: What you need to know about business structures
Once you’ve decided your business structure, the next step is registering your business with the right Australian agencies.
The below list explains each type of registration and why they’re important, which may seem daunting to the new business owner. Luckily, Business.gov.au also offers a Business Registration Service that helps step you through the entire process.
One of the first things you’ll need is a Tax File Number (TFN), the requirements for which can vary:
An Australian Business Number (ABN) helps the government and community identify your business. It’s required to process all sorts of taxes, including payroll tax and GST.
The process of getting an ABN is very simple. You can do it online through the ABR website, which should only take about 10 minutes. Plus, it’s completely free to apply.
For when you plan to run your business as a company, you’ll need to apply for an Australian Company Number (ACN).
This is achieved by lodging an application through the Australian Securities and Investments (ASIC) website.
Businesses with a GST turnover of over $75,000 or more in revenue each year will need to be registered to collect Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Currently, you can register for GST via the ABR website or through the Business Portal of the ATO website.
Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYG) is a key registration for any business seeking to pay staff, contractors on voluntary agreements or even other businesses if they don’t happen to have an ABN.
Luckily, registering for PAYG can be done at the same time you acquire an ABN on the ABR website. You can also find out more about PAYG and how to manage it on the ATO website.
In addition to the above registrations, if you’re conducting business under a name other than your personal name, then you will need to register it.
However, simply registering your business name doesn’t mean you own it. In fact, you may find many businesses trading under similar names to your own.
To exclusively own your business name, it needs to be registered as a trade mark, which can be achieved with the help of IP Australia.
RESOURCE: Registering your business name
Registering a business name does not mean you own that name. In fact, on the Australian Business Registry you will find that there may be many businesses that exist with similar names to your own.
If you wish to exclusively own your business’ name, you must register it as a trademark with IP Australia.
Registering a trade mark protects your business’s unique identity.
You can trade mark your brand name and other unique brand elements, such as logos and slogans.
There are several benefits to trade marking your brand, including:
For example, if copycat businesses negatively affect your business’s reputation and income, a trade mark would give you options to protect your business.
Check if someone already holds the trade mark for your branding or apply for a trade mark using IP Australia’s new trade mark checker.
Trade marks are just one type of intellectual property right that you’re able to use to protect your brand through IP Australia.
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