Yes. Foreigners can start a business in Australia as long as they have the right visas and the appropriate legal knowledge and requirements. Without doubts, Australia remains one of the best nations in the world that encourages foreign direct investment via investor visas or allowing foreigners to enter the country and successfully start businesses.
Foreigners can indeed start businesses in Australia; however, they must understand that certain visa regulations stipulate what foreign citizens can do when it comes to running a business in the country. Most often, you need to have a Director of the company who is resident in Australia. The company will also need to have a physical address in Australia and not a postal box for the registration.
The resident director is considered a non-executive role that acts as the official meeting point between the foreigner and the Australian government. The director helps to handle all contracts between the company and all the governmental agencies that may be involved in carrying out the day-to-day activities of the business.
Another likely path depends on the capital the potential business owner is willing to invest via venture capital or established business history. Depending on the amount of capital and also your prior business history abroad, the process to obtain this visa can be challenging.
Another possible path is applying for and obtaining a permanent visa in Australia and then starting a business from the scratch. Aside from being one of the best places to start a business, Australia is also well organized as the processes necessary to start a business remain very similar to those of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Australia is also more convenient because business registration-related information is publicly available and easy to comprehend, unlike Mainland China and Venezuela where the paperwork and bureaucracy can be quite complicated for foreigners and citizens.
How to Successfully Start a Business in Australia as a Foreigner
There are necessary processes and steps to take when you are looking to successfully start a business as a foreigner in Australia. Whether you intend to start a new company or just do business in Australia as a foreign company, here are some basic steps you have to take;
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Understand the Visa Process
If you are not an Australian citizen or permanent resident, have in mind that you will need a visa to work or do business in the country. However, there are specific visa programs for non-citizens who intend to start a business in Australia. They include:
- Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa: This provisional visa is for people with business skills. It grants the holder permission to operate a new or existing business in Australia.
- Business Talent visas: To qualify for this visa, you will have to be nominated by a state or territory government agency, invited to apply for the visa, and also have the necessary funding or assets.
- Significant business history stream: This is for experienced business owners looking to run a new or existing business in Australia. To be qualified you need to have a net value of at least AUD $1.5 million and an annual business turnover of at least AUD $3 million.
- Venture Capital Entrepreneur stream: This is for business people who are looking at starting a new business in Australia and have sourced venture capital funding from a member of the Australian Investment Council- external site (AIC).
Identify the Business Type You Would Like
Before you get into registering a business or choosing a business structure, it is imperative to consider whether you would prefer the franchise route or start an online business, home-based business, independent contractor, etc. In Australia, have it in mind that these business models all have varying tax implications and you need to consider them before you start seeking the right structure to register your business.
Register Your Business Name
Having a business name helps your customers make an emotional connection with your brand. Aside from that, you are expected to register your business name as long as you are not a sole trader or a franchise. You can only apply for permits and licenses when you must have successfully registered your business name.
While the process of registering your business name is easy in Australia, you can choose to work with a legal counsel to make it fast and less stressful. Once you are done with this step, you can then move to the business needs proper.
Choose Your Business Structure
This is a very important step when you are looking to start a business in Australia, and one to take seriously because your choice will impact your tax requirements and liability. There are four main structures available for businesses in Australia.
They include a sole trader, a partnership, a trust, and a company. Each one comes with its own tax, liability, and other legal requirements. You can also choose to upgrade or change your business’s structure as your business grows.
Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN)
An ABN is a unique 11-digit number used to identify your business for tax purposes. Note that this number allows you to claim goods and services tax credits, register for PAYG Withholding, or obtain a domain name for your business’ online website.
If you intend to incorporate your business as a company, you will have to first register a CAN with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Once your company is ready to start doing business, you can then use your CAN to register for an ABN.
Obtain Permits and Licenses
In Australia, the exact business permits or licenses your business needs will depend on the state or territory where you are situated. They will also depend on the business activities you intend to carry out and the industry you operate.
According to experts, you should consult or visit the Australian Business License and Information Service website to obtain the most up-to-date information. They have a complete breakdown of any permits or licenses you will be expected to obtain to run your business in the country.
Choose a Business Address
You are expected to have a registered office address in Australia unless you are a sole trader. Within Australia, there is not a strict premises requirement like in many other countries. Permitted premises in Australia include home business, buying or leasing premises, space incubators, co-working spaces, market stalls, and mobile vans. However, note that each of these options comes with different tax implications.
Starting a business in a new country can be very tasking but working out your tax can even be even more challenging. However, depending on the exact business structure you have selected, it is crucial that you understand the different taxation considerations and requirements of each.
If you intend to operate as a sole trader, then you are permitted to use your personal tax file number (TFN) and will have to lodge a tax return each year.
Partnerships, and companies are expected to apply for their own separate TFN and file their tax returns. If your business generates more than $75,000, you will also need to be registered for GST. It is recommended you consult a trusted accountant to assist you with your tax obligations.
Australian government welcomes foreign citizens with open hands if they intend to start a business and help the economy. When it comes to business registration, Australia boasts of one of the world’s most streamlined corporate registration processes.
The primary emphasis should be to figure out the precise business structure that will suit your budding business venture and the tax implications that come with it. Once you are done with these decisions, you can then register your business in Australia.