If you want to start a road freight transport business in Sydney or elsewhere in NSW, you can use this page as a guide to get you started.

You may only need to complete some of these transactions. For example, you can register a business name even if you don't want to operate as a company.

Before you invest time and money in setting up your business, make sure you put together a business plan and carefully consider how viable your business is.

If you need advice, a valuable source of information is available through the government’s Business Connect program. A trusted adviser will help you in making decisions on business structure, creating a business plan, and any other questions you may have before starting. The first 4 hours are free.

Choosing a business structure

It's important you choose the best structure for your business type. The most commonly used business structures are sole trader, company, partnership, and trust.

Set up as a sole trader
Operating as a sole trader is the simplest and cheapest business structure you can set up. You control and manage the business, and although you 'trade' on your own, you can still employ people to work for you.

Register a company
If you've decided a company structure is best for your business, you'll need to register your company with the Australian Government.

Register a limited partnership
If you’ve decided a limited partnership structure is best for your business, you’ll need to register the limited partnership with the NSW Fair Trading’s Registry Services.

Set up a trust business structure
A trust is an obligation imposed on one person or entity – the trustee, to hold property for the benefit of another – the beneficiary. The trustee can be an individual or a company, the latter providing some asset protection.

Register a co-operative
If you've decided a co-operative is best for your business, you'll need to register the co-operative with NSW Fair Trading's Registry Services.

Starting a business

Register an Australian Business Number (ABN)
You don't have to register for an ABN, but an ABN will let you claim Goods and Services Tax credits, energy grants credits, register an Australian domain name, plus more.

Apply for an Administrator AUSkey
An AUSkey is a unique secure login linked to an Australian business number (ABN), which allows you to access and send business information to government online.

Register a business name
You'll need to register a business name, unless you're a sole trader or partnership and your business name is exactly the same as your or you and your partner's first and last names. You'll need an ABN or ABN application number to register your business name. 

Register your business for Goods and Services Tax (GST)
You must register your business for GST if your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.

Apply for a business Tax File Number
If you've decided a company, trust, or partnership structure is best for your business, you'll need to apply for a business Tax File Number. 

Apply for an individual Tax File Number
If you’ve decided a sole trader structure is best for your business, you’ll need to apply for an individual Tax File Number.

Register for PAYG withholding
You'll need to register for PAYG withholding if you need to withhold tax (on behalf of the Australian Tax Office) from payments you make to employees, contractors, or other businesses that haven't supplied you an ABN.

Get liability insurance for your business
You can choose to take out public liability, professional indemnity, or product liability insurance. Public liability insurance protects you and your business against the risks of damage or injury to people or property. While it's not mandatory, it's essential for a business.

Register for fuel tax credits
You may be eligible to register for fuel tax credits for the fuel used by your business. 

Applying for heavy vehicle licences and permits

Apply for a heavy vehicle licence (LR, MR, HR and HC)
Before you can drive a heavy vehicle you need to have the appropriate licence for the class of vehicle. You can then drive any class of vehicle below your licence class, with the exception of motorcycles.

Apply for a heavy vehicle licence (multi-combination only)
You can apply to upgrade your driver licence to a heavy vehicle (multi-combination) licence after you've held either an HR or an HC licence for a period of at least one year. 

Apply for a heavy vehicle registration
Heavy vehicles with a gross vehicle mass of more than 4.5 tonnes need to be registered. 

Transfer a heavy vehicle from Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS)
If you're operating a heavy vehicle under the Federal Interstate Registration Scheme (FIRS) you'll be transferred to a national heavy vehicle number plate issued in NSW, when you renew your registration.

Comply with Heavy Vehicle National Law
Under Heavy Vehicle National Law, you're responsible for complying with regulations for fatigue management, mass, dimension and loading, and vehicle standards.

Comply with Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws 
Everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to ensure Heavy Vehicle National Law and regulations are followed, including all drivers, consignors and consignees, directors, partners and managers. 

Request a National Driver Work Diary
Drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles must complete and carry a National Driver Work Diary if they drive more than 100 kms from their home base. Drivers operating under basic fatigue management (BFM) or advanced fatigue management (AFM), must carry a diary, regardless of the distance they travel from their home base.

Apply for accreditation under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme
The National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) is a formal process for recognising operators who have robust safety and other management systems in place.

Applying for access permits

Apply for a B-double access permit
If you want to drive a B-double outside the approved B-double road network, you'll need to apply for an access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Apply for a Class 3 (Miscellaneous) vehicle access permit
If your heavy vehicle doesn't comply with mass, dimension or operating requirements set out in a gazette notice, you'll need to apply for a Class 3 (Miscellaneous) access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. You may also require a Class 3 permit if you're operating under a jurisdictional permit-based scheme.

Apply for a Higher Mass Limits (HML) vehicle access permit
If you want to drive a Higher Mass Limits (HML) vehicle outside the approved HML road network, you'll need to apply for an access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Apply for a Class 1 Oversize Overmass (OSOM) vehicle access permit 
If your oversize overmass vehicle doesn't comply with mass, dimension or operating requirements set out in a gazette notice, you can apply for a Class 1 Oversize Overmass (OSOM) vehicle access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Apply for a Performance-Based Standards (PBS) access permit 
If you want to travel on the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) road network, or on a route that is outside the network of your particular heavy vehicle, you'll need to apply for an access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. 

Apply for a road train access permit 
If any part of your journey is on a road outside the approved road train network, you'll need to apply for an access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Apply for a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) access permit 
If your Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) doesn't comply with the mass, dimension or operating requirements set out in a gazette notice, you'll need to apply for a Class 1 Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. 

Apply for a tow truck vehicle access permit 
If your tow truck doesn't comply with prescribed mass or dimension requirements, you'll need to apply for an access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. 

Plan a road freight journey
You'll need to plan your road freight journeys and identify the access permits you may require. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator manages the passage of heavy vehicles and provides resources to help you plan your journeys.

Apply for the Intelligent Access Program 
Enrolment in the Intelligent Access Program is a mandatory road condition for certain permits and vehicles, and may also be imposed as a condition by a Road Manager. 

Apply for Third Party Approval
If your heavy vehicle exceeds certain mass and/or dimension limits, you may need to get Third Party Approval, along with your access permits, to travel on the road network. This depends on your vehicle, its proposed route, and the state or territory you're travelling within or across.

Submit a transport management plan
You may need to submit a transport management plan as part of your application for a Class 1 Oversize Overmass (OSOM) vehicle access permit.

Setting up agriculture and food freight requirements

Apply for an agricultural vehicle access permit 
If your agricultural vehicle doesn't comply with mass, dimension or operating requirements set out in a gazette notice, you can apply for a Class 1 agricultural vehicle access permit through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Enrol in the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme
If you transport livestock by road in NSW, you may be eligible for the NSW Livestock Loading Scheme to allow vehicles to operate with increased mass limits. 

Participate in the NSW Grain Harvest Management Scheme 
If you transport grain by road in NSW, you may be able to participate in the NSW Grain Harvest Management scheme and exceed the regulated total mass limits by up to 5%. 

Apply for a food transport business licence
If your road freight transport business transports food products, such as milk, meat, plant products, eggs, or seafood, you'll need to hold a licence with the NSW Food Authority. 

Meet food safety requirements
Your food business must meet Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code requirements.

Setting up dangerous goods requirements

Apply for a dangerous goods driver licence
You’ll need to have a dangerous goods driver’s licence if you want to transport dangerous goods in a receptacle with a capacity of more than 500 litres, or if there is more than 500 kilograms in a single receptacle.

Apply for a dangerous goods vehicle licence 
You’ll need to have a dangerous goods vehicle licence if you want to transport dangerous goods in a receptacle with a capacity of more than 500 litres, or if there is more than 500 kilograms in a single receptacle.

Comply with dangerous goods legislation
Before transporting dangerous goods, you need to understand the Australian Dangerous Goods code and legislation. 

Apply for a licence to transport explosives and/or security sensitive dangerous substances
If you want to transport explosives and/or security sensitive dangerous substances, you’ll need to apply for a licence through SafeWork NSW. If you don’t already have security clearance to handle explosives, you can apply for the licence and security clearance at the same time.

Prepare a security plan for storing explosives and/or security sensitive dangerous substances
You'll need to submit a security plan as part of your application for a licence to store explosives and/or security sensitive dangerous substances.

Setting up workers

Comply with Fair Work requirements
If you’re employing staff you must comply with Fair Work requirements like minimum pay and conditions.

Comply with long service leave requirements
If you're employing staff you must comply with NSW Industrial Relations requirement to pay long service leave.

Paying employees at, or above, award rates
You must make sure you're providing at least minimum wages and conditions for your employees. These conditions are covered in the awards.

Paying super contributions using SuperStream
SuperStream is the way all employers are required to pay contributions and send information to super funds.

Use the superannuation guarantee contributions calculator
Use the calculator to check the super contributions you need to pay your employees.

Comply with work health and safety laws
You must comply with work health and safety (WHS) laws so that your workers, and people who come into contact with your business (customers, contractors or visitors) are kept healthy and safe. As part of WHS laws, you'll also need to manage the risks to health and safety for hazardous manual tasks, hazardous chemicals and noise at work.  

Apply for a workers insurance policy
If you're going to pay more than $7500 a year in wages, you'll need to have a workers compensation insurance policy.

Managing contractors and employees
You have different responsibilities if you engage contractors rather than permanent employees. It's important for you to learn about the differences.

Other things to consider

Register a trade mark
A trade mark (sometimes called a brand) is the way you show your customers and the public who you are.

Register a domain name for your business
With an ABN, you can register a website name that ends with '.au'.

Apply for a high risk work licence
You’ll need to hold a high risk work licence to do high risk construction work, including operating cranes, forklifts, hoists and pressure equipment. You’ll need to complete high risk work training before starting work or applying for a card.

Apply for a Maritime Security Identification Card 
If you need unmonitored access to a maritime security zone, you must hold a Maritime Security Identification Card.

Need help?

If you'd like to be connected with a local experienced business adviser or an industry association to help you get your business up and running, visit:

Business Connect

Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner

Road Freight NSW

Australian Trucking Association

Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association

NSW Business Chamber

National Road Transport Association (NatRoad)