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Starting a business in Australia

Moving to Australia and looking to start a business? Here’s how to go about it.


For many Kiwis who move to Australia, a crucial part of the dream may be running their own business. Whether you’re selling apartments, electronics or anything in between, the healthy Australian economy can offer the perfect tonic for business success.

Australia has a rich history of poor migrants starting from nothing and then developing multimillion-dollar businesses. Think of Westfield’s Frank Lowy, Meriton’s Harry Triguboff and consumer electronics guru Ruslan Kogan, to name but a few. Starting a business in Australia certainly turned out to be a great idea for them, so here’s how you can get started and set your company on the road to long-term success.

Kiwis moving to Australia

The Special Category Visa (SCV) that Kiwis obtain on entry to Australia is a temporary visa. You do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or permanent residents. To obtain these rights, Kiwis must obtain permanent visas.

If you lived in Australia before 26 February 2001, you might find you are already a permanent resident. You can find this out at the Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and Citizenship. If you arrived after 26 February 2001, you need to apply for a visa, for example, a Permanent resident visa or a Skilled independent visa.

To apply for Australian citizenship, there are several requirements you must meet. For example, you must have lived in Australia permanently for 12 months before your application and lived in Australia on a valid visa for 4 years. You can find further details at the Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and Citizenship.

How to start a business in Australia

It’d be great if starting a business was as simple as it was when you were a kid—set up a stand out the front of your house, and away you go. Australian legislation and government regulations mean you have to jump through a few hoops before you can start earning your first million. Read on to find out what you need to do.

If you wish to start a company in Australia, you need to register it with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and get an Australian Company Number (ACN). Small business owners are required to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Alternatively, if you want to buy an Australian business, it may be a good idea to enlist a business broker’s help to understand the local market better.

Every business owner is well aware of the importance of insurance, so you need to consider the type and level of financial protection that your business requires. What are your business assets, and what cover do you need for them? Do you need insurance protection for your employees or for your ability to earn revenue? For a full understanding of products offered by Australian insurance providers, speak to an insurance broker.

If you’re looking to raise capital, there are many investment solutions at your disposal to help you meet your financial goals. From Australian equities to Forex trading and derivatives, there are plenty of investment options to choose from.

You need to set up an Australian business bank account to manage your business’ finances. However, finding the right account depends on your business spending requirements. For example, are you looking for a high-interest account to build a savings balance, or do you want an account that charges minimal fees for looking after your everyday transactions? Do you want a branch nearby, or are you happy handling all your transactions via internet banking?

From loan accounts to deposit accounts, transaction accounts and savings accounts, there is a wide range of business banking solutions to choose from. The same goes for business credit cards, so it pays to compare a range of offerings from Australian financial institutions before deciding on the right products for your business.

The Australian Government runs the Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) to help attract talented and successful business people to set up and grow their business activities. The programme helps the Australian economy continue to grow by increasing entrepreneurial talent and diversifying business expertise in Australia.

The BIIP is state and territory nominated and covers three visa subclasses: Business Talent (Permanent) visa (subclass 132), Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa (subclass 188) and Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa (subclass 888). Under the programme, most migrants enter Australia with a provisional four-year visa, after which, provided they demonstrate a specified level of business activity during that time, they can then apply for permanent residency. However, those with high-level business skills can apply for a Business Talent visa and get direct permanent residence. You can discover more information at

How to buy a business in Australia


The Australian business sphere is quite a highly regulated environment and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Each industry has its own specific rules and regulations, which are constantly changing. Before buying a business in Australia, you should be well versed in these rules and regulations to understand better how running an Australian business can vary from running a business in New Zealand.

If you’re in Australia on a Business Talent visa (subclass 132) or a Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 188), you can buy a business in Australia. However, bear in mind that every Australian company must have an ACN and be registered with ASIC (see above). Depending on the industry in which you operate, there may also be several licences or other registration processes to fulfil.

With all the rules, regulations, licences and registrations required to establish a business in Australia legally, it may worth your while engaging the services of a business broker. Brokers can help you navigate the complex process of buying a business, acting as an independent third party and providing unbiased advice that is in your best interests. Brokers can also call upon their extensive local knowledge of everything from financial regulations and the necessary permits to real estate prices and insurance, making sure that you end up with a business that you can grow into a successful enterprise.

Investing in a business

Visas for business migrants to Australia aren’t just about starting or buying a business; you can also look to make a significant investment in one or more Australian businesses. For example, under the Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 188), you can qualify for entry to Australia if you’re willing to invest in a business. You need to want to invest a minimum of $1.5 million in state or territory bonds and plan to maintain business and investment activity in Australia after your original investment has matured. You also need to have had business and personal net assets of at least $2.25 million for the previous two financial years.

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