Steps for setting up your business

Setting up your business can be an exciting time. However, its important you're aware of what's involved before you start, to save you time and money. That's why we are here to help you along the way.

You don't need to pay someone to register your business, you can do it all yourself, online.

Registering your business can be done from the comfort of your own home or office. The steps involved in registering your business are:

  1. Deciding on your business structure
  2. Applying for your Australian Business Number (ABN)
  3. Checking your chosen business name is available
  4. Registering your business name
  5. Registering your website domain name

Step 1: Deciding on your business structure

When starting a business, it's important to choose the business structure that best suits your needs.

Your business structure, also known as the applicant or entity type, refers to the way you will operate your business.

Types of business structures include:

  • Sole trader: an individual trading on their own
  • Partnership: an association of people or entities running a business together, but not as a company
  • Trust: an entity that holds property or income for the benefit of others
  • Company: a legal entity separate from its shareholders.

It's important to remember that you can change your business structure as your business grows.

Visit the Australian Taxation Office website for more information on each business structure.

Step 2: Applying for your Australian Business Number (ABN)

Your ABN is a unique number that allows you to identify your business to government and other businesses.

Head to the Australian Business Register website to apply for your ABN.

Applying for an ABN is free and completing the online application form should take you around 30 minutes.

You will need to provide:

  • your personal details
  • your business information
  • your associate details
  • reasons for your application
  • your business activity details and
  • a declaration that the information you have provided throughout the application is true.

Look out for the help icons throughout the application if you are unsure how to answer a question.

Once completed, you can print a copy for your records.

Your new ABN will appear on the completed application screen and will be ready for you to use right away.

Step 3: Checking your chosen business name is available

Your business name is a name under which you operate your business.

To determine whether a business name is available for registration, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has an online name availability check.

Complete the following steps to check whether a business name is available for registration: 

  1. Search business names register on the ASIC Connect website.
  2. From the drop down menu select 'Check business name availability'.
  3. Enter the name you would like to search in the field below.
  4. Submit your search by pressing the 'Go' button.

If your name is not available, keep searching until you find a suitable name.

Step 4: Registering your business name

Once you have found an available business name, register the name with ASIC to secure it.

  1. To do this: Go to the ASIC Connect website.
  2. Sign up to create an account with ASIC prior to beginning your application. Once you have your account you can begin the application.
  3. Complete the application. This should take you around 15-20 minutes to complete and at the end of the application you will receive confirmation that your chosen name has been registered.

Applying for a business name costs $34 AUD for one year or $79 for three years. Visit the ASIC website for more information on business name payments and fees. 

Visit ASIC for more information on creating your ASIC account.

Your business name is only your identification. Registering your business name doesn't give you full rights over the name, so you might want to consider protecting your business name by trade marking it.

Register your business the easy way

With the new Business registration service, you can decide on a business structure then apply for your key business registrations using one form. Even though it’s a Beta service, the registrations you apply for are real.

Who can apply?

The Business registration service is currently available for:

  • New businesses starting as a sole trader, partnership, company, trust or joint venture who can apply for a business name, Australian Business Number (ABN), company and tax registrations. In the future it will also be available to superannuation funds.
  • Existing businesses with an ABN, who can apply for tax registrations or an AUSkey login.

We need your help! If you use this service, please give us your feedback so we can make it even better!

Register your business

Step 5: Registering your website domain name

Your domain name is your website address on the internet and gives your business an online identity or brand for your customers.

When picking a website name it's best to go with a name that:

  • represents your business
  • is easy to remember, pronounce and spell
  • is three syllables or less.

If you want to buy a .com.au or .net.au web address you will need to have an ABN.

To register your domain name go to the .au Domain Administration Ltd (.auDA) website for links to registrars and resellers, and to confirm current fees and options.

Learn more about creating your online presence by reading our Online business topic.

More information

Read:

  • Registration & licences - for more information on the correct licences and registrations for your business.
  • Tax - for details on the range of taxes that will affect your business.

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