How to register a business

Figuring out what you need to do to register a business can be a bit confusing the first time around. To help simplify things, we've created a quick guide below to give you an overview of the different registration types and connect you to the information you need. 

Business registrations

Australian Business Number (ABN) 

An ABN is a unique identification number that identifies your business to the government and other businesses. It's optional in most circumstances, but having one will make it easier to operate and entitle you to certain benefits.

If you want to register for GST, note that you will need to hold an ABN to apply.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) 

Registering for GST enables you to claim GST back on your expenses or on any goods you purchase for sale. GST registration is optional unless:

  • You expect to make more than $75,000 per year
  • You are a taxi driver
  • You want to claim fuel tax credits

Business name registration

A business name is a name or title under which a business operates.

If you're a sole trader or a partnership, a business name isn't compulsory unless you want to trade under a name other than your own. For example, Mark Jones can trade freely as Mark Jones. But if he wants to call his business Mark Jones & Co, Mark’s Plumbing or North Rocks Plumbing, he will need to register a business name.

Business Entity Types

Sole trader 

This is the most common business entity, and is relatively easy and inexpensive to set up. As the sole owner and operator, you have full control and ownership of the entity, but are also responsible for all debts and losses. 


A partnership is similar in structure to that of a Sole Trader, except control and ownership of the entity is split between you and a business partner. You share income and losses, and each partner is responsible for the debts incured by the partnership.


An incorporated company is a distinct legal entity regulated by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). The company is owned by shareholders and controlled by its directors. It's the most complex and expensive of the three entities to set up, but has many benefits for larger businesses. 

Bianca Farmakis