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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.