Business in Australia

There is a large amount of 'red tape' associated with setting up a business in Australia and consequently it is important to make contact with a suitably qualified accountant or business consultant before, during and after your immigration to Australia.

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Starting a Business in Australia

Starting a small business in Australia involves a range of dealings with federal, state, territory and local government agencies. Australian visa applicants who wish to start a small business need to:

  • Register the business for taxation purposes,
  • Register the business or company name and, in some instances,
  • Obtain specific business licences and permits.

Registering a business name in the state or territory in which the small business operates is compulsory and new companies must register with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

The federal government provides information for business people who want to migrate to Australia to start a small business, or employers who wish to employ migrants.

Advice and assistance is also available for foreign investors who want to invest in Australia and foreign companies wishing to register in Australia.

Business in Australia Visa Applicants

Australia's Business Skills Migration Scheme aims to attract business people with a proven record of business skills and expertise.

Any immigration to Australia under a business visa requires applicants to provide a detailed migrant business plan in conjunction with their applications. The business plan must include and address all the key elements of the Migration Act and the respective state government guidelines for the state they intend to conduct business in.

As a general guide, the minimum content of the business proposal must include:

  • Possible location, management structure, financing arrangements, job descriptions.
  • Forecast establishment and growth (financial plan) over the four-year term of your provisional visa.
  • Research you have undertaken to ensure the viability of your business proposal, including information on competitors and as well as cost factors.
  • Your marketing strategy.
  • A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.

Business Structures in Australia

There are a number of business structures in Australia, including sole trader, partnership, company, trusts, fixed unit trusts and joint ventures.

Income Tax, State Tax & Duty in Australia

Taxation legislation is administered by the federal and state and territory governments. Before a new small business owner starts operating their new business, they need to know what they must do to comply with government taxation regulations.

In addition to applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN), Goods and Services Tax (GST), Tax File Number (TFN) and Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT), small business owners may be required to pay state and territory land tax, pay-roll tax and other duties.

For detailed advice on the accounting, legal and tax attributes of each business structure and setting up a business in Australia Visas To recommend you talk to a chartered accountant or solicitor.


All business owners in Australia should insure their life, income and commercial risks.

Workers' compensation insurance is compulsory for all employees, including company directors.

Licences and permits

Some businesses require licenses or permits in order to operate. It is important to have the correct business licences and permits.

Employing Staff in your Australian Business

Employing staff for your small business carries certain legal responsibilities with respect to your employees.

Provide a written job description before employees start work and make sure that employees understand what you expect in the workplace.

For detailed information about employing staff you can contact the Department of Productivity and Labour Relations and Department of Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare regarding hours, holidays, leave, superannuation and safety.


Australian employers have certain superannuation obligations for their staff.

Under the superannuation guarantee legislation, superannuation contributions for staff are a percentage of their earnings base. Employers who don't pay enough superannuation contributions will have to pay the Superannuation Guarantee Charge.

Training and Apprenticeships

Small business owners can take advantage of a number of training services and programmes available to them when employing trainees and apprentices.

Incentives and subsidies are available from the federal and state and territory governments to help reduce the cost of training employees.


Franchises in Australia are bound by the Franchising Code of Conduct which requires franchisors to disclose specific information and follow certain rules.

Assistance for small business operators who are buying, extending or renewing a franchise, or who need help with resolving disputes may also be available from state and territory governments.

Australian Business Migration

In addition to the 'skilled migration' stream, the Australian government actively pursues individuals who have demonstrated a record of successful business achievement as managers, senior executives, owners and through active investment.

This has led to the class of visas dealt with under the Business Skills Programme. The vast majority of business skills entrants initially qualify for a provisional four year temporary residency visa; and after satisfactory evidence of business or investment activity in Australia, can apply for permanent residence.

In addition to the business skills category, there is a provision for high calibre business entrepreneurs to qualify for permanent residency via the business talent visa subclass. This visa subclass also requires direct sponsorship via a state or territory government.

It may be necessary to get approval from the state in which the applicant intends to settle before an application for temporary residence can be submitted. This normally requires the applicant to submit a detailed business plan which includes evidence of research and supporting documentation.

Migration to Australia on a business skills visa is based on the system outlined above. The requirements are in constant review and are therefore open to change and dependent on decisions made by DIMIA.

Please bear in mind that changes can affect the application at any time, so it is vital that the applicant follows the guidelines as outlined by Visas To.

People who viewed this page often read our guide on Healthcare in Australia for extra advice. Find out further information on our Healthcare page.

July 15, 2015

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