Your business structure

Choosing a business structure 

When you register a business it's important to choose a structure that suits your needs.

This page provides information on the most common structures you can register with ASIC.

We also recommend visiting business.gov.au for more information about choosing a business structure.

Should I register as a company?

A company is a separate legal entity. This means it has the same rights as a natural person and can incur debt, sue and be sued. 

A company is a complex business structure, with higher set-up and administrative costs. Companies must be registered with ASIC, and company officeholders have legal obligations under the Corporations Act.

See starting a company to learn more about company structures.

Should I register as a sole trader or partnership?

A business name is a name or title under which a person or entity conducts business.

If you operate a business in Australia and don't trade under your own name, you'll need to register a business name.

Sole trader

A sole trader is the simplest business structure. The structure is inexpensive to set up because there are few legal and tax formalities.

If you operate as a sole trader, you're responsible for all aspects of the business, including any debts the business incurs.

Partnership

A partnership is an association of people who do business as partners or receive income jointly.

In a partnership, control or management of the business is shared. A partnership is not a separate legal entity so you and your partners are liable for all debts and obligations of the business. A formal partnership agreement is common, but not essential.

The information you need to provide when registering a business name depends on who holds that name. Learn more.

What is a trust?

A trust is an obligation imposed on a person – the trustee – to hold property or assets (e.g. business assets) for the benefit of others (known as beneficiaries).

Setting up a trust requires a formal deed, as well as the completion of yearly administrative tasks.

If you operate as a trust, the trustee is responsible for its operation.

If the trustee is a company, some asset protection is provided. You do not need to register the trust with us unless the trustee is a company. If the trust does business under a name other than its own, the name must be registered as a business name with ASIC.

Before deciding on your business structure, we recommend speaking with a professional business adviser. This could be a lawyer or an accountant.

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Last updated: 28/09/2016 11:13