Bringing your business to Australia from Overseas

By Paul Bunting, MSI Ragg Weir, Accountants, Melbourne.

You have done your research & determined that you want to establish a business in Australia however the next steps can appear to be daunting. These are the how, where & what do we need to do questions that put a barrier in front of commencing the process.

Business Registration

Your presence in Australia can be either as a Registered Foreign company or a local registered subsidiary. The decision in relation to this is likely to require some professional guidance. There are advantages & disadvantages for both types of registration & this may vary depending on the type of business & country of origin. Irrespective of which type of registration you pursue you will need a person who resides in Australia to act as your Local Director or Agent. This requirement is different to a number of other countries that do not require a local representative. When the answer to these questions is resolved a registration is required with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). When you are registered you obtain your Australian Company Number (ACN).


Australia is a large country and certain industries are centred in different parts of the country. Research should be undertaken to ascertain if there will be a competitive advantage in locating in one area or region. If there is no competitive advantage then you should consider where any key personnel that are in Australia are currently located as this may assist with the position of the Local Director.


The Australian Taxation Office will require you to register to facilitate the interaction with that department. This is likely to include a Tax File number and an Australian Business Number & if your turnover is likely to be over $75,000 you will need to register for Goods & Services Tax. The GST rate in Australia is 10%. If you are going to employ people in Australia you will also need to register for PAYG withholding, WorkCover (employee work insurance) and pay superannuation to your employees account at 9.5% of gross wages. Payroll Tax is a state based tax that applies as a % of payroll however the application of this can vary from state to state. Typically it applies to wages when they are over $600,000 at a rate of around 5% however this will need to be checked dependent upon the State you decide to locate within. Income tax returns are lodged annually with the standard year end being 30th June however alternative year end dates can be applied for. Business Activity Statements that report GST & employment payments are either Quarterly or Monthly depending upon your level of turnover.

If you are a subsidiary of an Overseas Registered Company it is likely that you will be required to have your year end financial accounts audited & lodged with ASIC. Your accounting year end can be determined by you & it can be different to your tax year end.

To assist you in bringing your business to Australia, we recommend seeking out legal and accounting advice.  A member of our MSI Global Alliance team is available to assist and support you.

Contact the author directly by email or by telephone.

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