How to start a business in Australia
Register a company
If you are a non-resident of Australia, you will need to set up a private (or “Pty Ltd”) company before you start business here.
Who can be shareholders and directors?
A person or company can own 100% of the shares in an Australian company. This includes non-residents of Australia. But at least one director must ordinarily reside in Australia – see Resident Director.
Control of an Australian company
If one or more offshore companies control an Australian company, it is necessary to file an audited annual financial report with ASIC unless relief from this obligation is granted. Applications for relief are usually successful.
A company must have a registered office and a principal place of business. Both can be at the same street address, but not a post office box.
It does not matter where it is located, an Australian company can carry on business throughout Australia. For example, you can use our office in Sydney and do business in Melbourne, or anywhere else in Australia.
The company tax rate in Australia is normally 30% of net profits (sales less tax-deductible costs).
If you are a non-resident of Australia and intend to manage the Australian business from offshore, the net profit can be reduced by payments made to you, or your offshore business, for management and other services.
But the arrangement must be on commercial terms otherwise you could end up with a tax problem. We can help you with this.
Goods and Services Tax is 10%. It is invariably added to the sale price and subsequently passed on by the business to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The amount passed on to the ATO can be reduced by the GST included in the purchase price of goods and services that your company buys in Australia and are needed to do business.
You can choose to account for GST on either a cash or accruals basis. Most companies submit GST returns to the ATO quarterly.
You will need to set up a bank account in Australia for taxation reasons, so make sure that the bank you choose use does not require you to come to Australia to be identified at a branch of the bank. We can handle this (setting up a bank account) for you.
Other things you may want help with
If you wish us to handle the appointment of an accountant, or just refer you to an accountancy firm, we are happy to help. Alternatively, you may prefer to save money (quite a bit!) and use our internal accountant. You may also want help with other things such as phone answering and mail forwarding. It’s all part of our job of making it as easy as possible for you to set up a business in Australia.
Now you are ready to start business. Or are you?
Even though all the registrations you need to start business may be in place, thatdoes not mean your company is protected, or you personally.
Whether or not you use our services, the information on this website is designed to help people, including non-residents, by providing information about a range of issues which are relevant to registering a company and starting a business in Australia. For example:
Our guidelines on Protecting your business will help you avoid unnecessary loss and protect valuable assets.
Terms of business … a summary of what all businesses in Australia should know about business agreements, terms of trade and contract law.
The page on Negotiation will provide an insight into negotiation as it is practised in Australia.
The page on Shareholders’ agreements is important to avoid the problems which can occur in Australia if there is a misunderstanding or dispute between shareholders.