RBizz Corporate Accountants
RBizz Corporate Accountants
Accountants of Growing Businesses, Simple to Complex.
  • Get A Company Set-Up In Australia Online By Top Corporate Accountants Of Australia

    Register a New Company In Australia

    Get ATO Registrations - TFN, ABN, GST, PAYG

    Set-up A Branch Office Of A Foreign Company

    Set-up A Representative Office Of A Foreign Company

    Appoint Local Agents Of A Foreign Company

    Get Advice On Best Business Structure In Australia

    Get Comprehensive Company Constitution Prepared

    Get A Legal Shareholders Agreement Drawn

    All Other Allied Services

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Company Formation and Registration: Establishing a Business Presence in Australia

Australia's vibrant business landscape attracts numerous international entities. Before commencing operations, however, foreign businesses must navigate the foundational steps set out predominantly by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). While various business structures exist globally, foreign entities primarily establish a proprietary company or a subsidiary in Australia, ensuring both compliance and operational flexibility.

Understanding Australia's Corporate Landscape

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) is the cornerstone legislation that governs the establishment and operation of companies in Australia. Adherence to this Act ensures that foreign businesses maintain the trust of stakeholders and operate within the legal confines of the Australian corporate framework.

ASIC Registration

Central to the establishment of a company in Australia is its registration with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). As mandated by Section 117 of the Corporations Act 2001, every company must be registered with the ASIC. Upon successful registration, the company is issued an Australian Company Number (ACN), a unique identifier crucial for various business activities in Australia.

The registration process entails a meticulous documentation submission, which includes, but isn't limited to:

  • Form 201: An application for the registration of an Australian company.
  • Consent Forms: These are required from all officeholders, members, and, if applicable, the occupier of the registered office if it's not the company itself. The consent ensures all parties are informed and agreeable to their respective roles and responsibilities.

ABN and TFN Registration

An integral aspect of doing business in Australia is obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN). Governed by the "A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999", the ABN is pivotal for various business functionalities. Securing an ABN offers multiple advantages, including:

  • Business Verification: An ABN confirms a company's identity during business transactions, such as when placing orders or invoicing clients.
  • Tax Benefits: Having an ABN ensures businesses can avoid Pay as You Go (PAYG) tax on received payments.
  • Tax Credits: An ABN is a prerequisite for claiming Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits, thereby aiding in tax optimization.

With a combination of expert guidance and a comprehensive understanding of the Australian corporate scene, foreign businesses can seamlessly integrate themselves into the country's thriving economic ecosystem.

Setting-Up a Branch by Foreign Companies in Australia

Branch Registration

  • When foreign companies wish to expand into Australia without establishing a separate legal entity, setting up a branch becomes an attractive option. Branches, however, have specific regulatory requirements. We guide businesses through the intricacies, ensuring all necessary licenses are secured, and mandatory reporting is in place.

Regulatory Compliance

  • Foreign branches in Australia are subject to continuous oversight by local regulatory bodies. This includes routine financial reporting, tax compliance, and adherence to industry-specific regulations. With our in-depth knowledge of the Australian business landscape, we ensure that branches remain compliant, avoiding any potential legal pitfalls.

Local Representation

  • For a foreign branch to operate seamlessly in Australia, understanding local market dynamics and having a presence on the ground is pivotal. We offer representation services, enabling foreign companies to have their finger on the pulse of the Australian market. Whether it's liaising with local partners, handling governmental interactions, or simply understanding local business customs, our experts bridge the cultural and logistical gaps.

Legislative Requirements:

  • Establishing a branch in Australia involves compliance with the Corporations Act 2001. For instance, foreign companies must be registered with the ASIC under Section 601CD and ensure the appointment of local agents who can receive legal notices, as stipulated in Section 601CE. We guide businesses through these nuances, ensuring all legislative requirements are met.

Financial Reporting:

  • Branches of foreign companies have specific financial reporting obligations, like annual lodgment of financial statements with the ASIC. Our team assists with preparing and lodging these documents, ensuring compliance with Section 601CK of the Corporations Act 2001.

Branch Closure and Exit Strategy:

  • If a business decides to cease its branch operations in Australia, it's essential to adhere to local legal requirements. For example, under Section 601CL of the Corporations Act 2001, a foreign company must provide ASIC with a notice of intention to cease its Australian operations. Our team ensures a smooth and compliant exit process, minimizing any potential legal or financial repercussions.


What types of business entities can international companies establish in Australia?

For international companies, the primary options for setting up a business entity in Australia are:

  1. Proprietary Limited Company (Pty Ltd): This is a private company and one of the most common structures. It provides limited liability and is governed under the Corporations Act 2001.
  2. Branch Office: An extension of the foreign company, not a separate legal entity but allows the company to conduct business in Australia.

Your choice between these structures depends on factors such as the intended business scale in Australia, desired level of control, and tax implications.

What is the process to register a Pty Ltd company in Australia?

When establishing a Pty Ltd for an international company:

  1. Reserve a company name. It should not be identical or too similar to any existing names and typically ends with "Pty Ltd".
  2. Obtain required consents, e.g., resident director's consent to act.
  3. Complete and submit Form 201 – "Application for registration as an Australian company" to ASIC.
  4. If approved, ASIC will provide an Australian Company Number (ACN) and a certificate of registration.

Remember, under the Corporations Act 2001, Pty Ltd companies must have at least one resident director in Australia.

How can a foreign company set up a branch in Australia?

For foreign companies wishing to establish a branch:

  1. Register the foreign company with ASIC using Form 402 – "Application for registration as a foreign company".
  2. Obtain an Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN).
  3. Appoint a local agent responsible for branch obligations under the Corporations Act 2001.
  4. Provide a registered office address in Australia where communications and notices can be sent.

Branches must also lodge their annual financial statements with ASIC unless exempted.

Do international businesses need an ABN when operating in Australia?
Yes, an Australian Business Number (ABN) is essential for international companies conducting business in Australia. An ABN is an 11-digit number that identifies your business and is used for various tax and business purposes. After obtaining an ACN or ARBN, businesses can apply for an ABN via the Australian Business Register.
Are there any annual obligations for Pty Ltd companies?

Absolutely. Pty Ltd companies have annual review obligations, including:

  1. Lodging an annual review with ASIC, which includes a solvency resolution.
  2. Paying an annual review fee.
  3. Updating ASIC on changes in company details, such as directorship or address changes.

Failure to meet these obligations can result in penalties.

Can the company name be changed after registration?

Yes, a Pty Ltd company can change its name post-registration. To do so:

  1. Ensure the new name is available.
  2. Pass a special resolution in the company agreeing to the name change.
  3. Lodge a Form 205A – "Notification of resolution" with ASIC along with the prescribed fee.

Upon approval, ASIC will provide a new certificate of registration reflecting the name change.

Is it mandatory for international companies to maintain a registered office in Australia?
Yes. Under the Corporations Act 2001, both Pty Ltd companies and foreign branch offices must have a registered office in Australia. This address is where communications and notices are sent. The office should be open to the public and operational during certain hours.
How can international companies ensure compliance with Australian company laws?

Maintaining compliance can be complex. We recommend:

  1. Retaining local professional services for advice, especially concerning the Corporations Act 2001.
  2. Regularly monitoring ASIC notifications and updates.
  3. Setting internal compliance procedures and regularly reviewing them.
  4. Ensuring timely submission of all regulatory filings and payments.
What if the company decides to wind up its operations in Australia?

Should a foreign-owned Pty Ltd decide to wind up, the process involves:

  1. Passing a resolution to wind up the company.
  2. Appointing a liquidator to handle the process.
  3. Ensuring all debts are cleared.
  4. Distributing any remaining assets.
  5. Lodging necessary forms with ASIC.

For a branch office, the foreign company must notify ASIC of its intention to cease Australian operations and provide evidence from its home jurisdiction.

Are there any specific industries in Australia that have different registration or compliance requirements?
Yes, certain industries have specific regulatory bodies and requirements, such as financial services (governed by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority), media (overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority), and others. It's crucial to research industry-specific regulations or seek expert guidance.

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