Legal Documents Needed For Starting a New Business in Australia

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When it comes to starting a business it can be complicated to know exactly what documents you need to have in order to trade. Many of these documents may be unfamiliar to you because in previous roles you may have had a legal expert to look them over. If you’re starting a new business and need to know what legal documents you need, start with these must-have documents.

Registering an Australian Business Number

An Australian business number or ABN is a legal requirement and is an 11 digit number that allows the government and other agencies to identify you. The registration process is free and doesn’t take long at all, but is a legal requirement to create accounts with suppliers and customers. At the end of the registration process, documentation is provided to the business to confirm the registration and their ABN. Your ABN should feature in your Terms of Use document, and this documentation should be secured and stored in a location that is easily accessible as your business will need it often.

Registering your business name

Your new business name may be one of the most valuable parts of your proposition, registering it is a key legal process you must complete. No business name is official until it officially lodges with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. There is a process to follow to register your business name and varying lengths of time you can pay for to secure your name. This legal process will result in key documentation you may need for other business attempts to use your business name. This is a great time to sit down and develop a business plan that you can start working towards.

Licensing and permits

Depending on what type of business you are looking to open, you may need a license or permit to operate. Across Australia, there are varying legislation and codes which may require your business to have a license or permit to sell your product or offer your service. The easiest process to follow is to investigate if you require any licenses or permits before you open your business. This documentation will be required to be on-site and may be requested if your business is investigated or audited by officials.

Insurance documents

Like car insurance or home insurance, there are a number of different insurers, covers and policies when it comes to business insurance. Having insurance is a must for any business, especially if your business gets tied up in a legal battle with a customer or supplier. Insurances such as indemnity and public liability are common insurances you’ll need to operate safely as a new business. Confidentiality Agreements also make up your insurance obligations as this will keep your intellectual property safe, as will a General Non-Compete Document. These insurances can be complicated and oftentimes new businesses sign up to cover they don’t need. Do your research and find out exactly what cover your new business needs.


If you wish to trademark your business name or products this is a legal process that requires documentation. Trademarks help protect your business name or the unique attributes of your business. Applying for a trademark can be complicated and may require legal advice first. Following the advice of the trademarks and international property rights body is your best way to understand this legal and documentation process. If you plan on working with partners, protect yourself with a robust Partnership Agreement Document so they know exactly how they can use your assets, and you may want to put together an Affiliate Marketing Agreement so that you can jump on opportunities and not be tied up in contracts and working out what the service exchange is.


Not all businesses in Australia are taxed the same way. Depending on your business structure, income and other factors, your tax may vary. The best way to ensure your new business is being taxed correctly is to assess the type of business you are opening, potential business activity and turnover. Then you can be sure you are registering for the right taxation and not paying too much or not enough.


Setting up a new business can be a daunting process with lots of documentation required. From insurance to taxation, there is a lot to learn and that’s before you even worry about customers or products. If you’re on the way to opening your new business and need help navigating the legal documentation requirements, try starting here.


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Written by Keith Nallawalla

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