Back to top

Before you start a business in NSW, it's important to take the time to understand the steps involved in opening a new business. Use this guide as a checklist of tasks you may need to complete. 

Check out the industry specific guides for opening or starting a: 

Before you invest time and money into setting up your business by registering and applying for the right business licences, make sure you put together a business plan and carefully consider how viable your business is. Many businesses fail when these things aren't considered. Get in touch with the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner or an industry association to get advice specific to your area.

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.

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. 

Help with leasing business premises
You can find out about commercial leasing on the Office of the NSW Small Business Commissioner website.

Apply for development consent
You may need to get consent from your local council before you can carry out development work on your business premises. Make sure you read the notification requirements for your local council carefully.

Track a development application
You may be able to use your local council website to track the progress of your development application.

Apply to install a street awning or a business sign

Before you install any street awnings or business signs at your premises, you may need to apply for permission from your local council.

Apply for a zoning certificate
To find out about any controls, requirements and restrictions on a property, apply to your local council for a zoning certificate (Section 149 planning certificate).

Apply to make changes to a heritage listed place
If you want to make changes to a heritage listed place, you may need to seek approval from your local council or the Heritage Council of NSW. 

Apply for a Construction Certificate
Before you start any building work, you need to apply for a Construction Certificate from your local council. This certificate confirms the construction plans are consistent with the development consent and other requirements. 

Appoint a Principal Certifying Authority
After being issued with development consent or a Construction Certificate, and before you start any approved construction, you need to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority to oversee the building work. ed

Apply for a Fire Safety Certificate
You’ll need to have a final Fire Safety Certificate from your local council before a final Occupation Certificate can be issued for a new building or an existing building that’s changed use. 

Apply for a Compliance Certificate
After your building work is complete, you may need to apply to your local council for a Compliance Certificate to confirm the development meets council and regulatory requirements. 

Apply for an Occupation Certificate
Before moving in to your premises, you’ll need an Occupation Certificate from your local council to occupy or use a new building, or change the use of an existing building. 

You can find your local council online to get the information relevant to your situation.

Apply to discharge commercial trade waste water
You may need approval from your water provider to discharge commercial trade waste water into a public sewer. 

Register a regulated water system
You need to register a regulated water system, like a water cooling or warm water system, with your local council. 

Apply to place commercial waste in a public place
You’ll need approval from your local council if you want to place commercial waste from your business in a public place for collection. 

Apply for a licence to play music at your business
If you want to play music at your business, you'll need 2 kinds of licences to cover copyright issues.

Comply with Australian Consumer Law
It's important you're familiar with consumers' rights for purchases of goods and services under Australian Consumer Law, and understand your responsibilities for complying with consumer guarantees. 

Comply with competition and consumer laws
It's important you understand and comply with competition and consumer laws that govern how all businesses in Australia, including online retailers and those with a shopfront, must deal with their competitors, suppliers and customers. 

Meet requirements for displaying or advertising prices
You must comply with pricing regulations, and display prices accurately and clearly.

Apply for an exemption from restricted trading days
If you wish to open your business on a restricted trading day, such as Good Friday, Easter Sunday, ANZAC Day (prior to 1pm), or Christmas Day, you may need to apply for an exemption. 

Check guidelines for importing and buying goods from overseas
You don't need a licence to buy or import goods from overseas, but you may need to get permits to clear some goods from customs control. Check you understand and comply with any customs legislation and procedures before you order goods from overseas.

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.

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.

Register for the superannuation clearing house
If you have 19 or fewer employees or have an aggregated turnover below $2 million, you can register for the small business superannuation clearing house to pay super contributions to your employees in a single online location. 

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 compensation 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.

Register for the small business grant
If you're within the payroll tax threshold, and intend to increase the number of full time, part-time and/or casual workers in your business, you may be able to register for the Small Business Grant.

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'.

Comply with Australian standards
Australian standards set out specifications and design procedures to ensure products and services consistently perform safely, reliably, and the way they're intended to. 

Comply with NSW environmental legislation
It's most important to make sure you comply with all environmental laws covering water, land, air, noise pollution and waste management.

Apply to register a design
You can protect your design, provided it is both new and distinctive, by registering it with IP Australia. 

Apply for a patent
If you've developed a new device, substance, method, or process, you can apply for a patent to give you rights over your invention in Australia. There are 2 types of patents, standard and innovation. 

Apply for a Trade Promotion Lottery Permit (Single Promotion)
If you want to run a single free-entry competition, such as a sweep, giveaway or contest to promote your business, you'll need to apply for a permit online. 

Apply for a Trade Promotion Lottery Permit (Multiple Promotions)
If you want to run multiple free-entry competitions over 12 months, such as sweeps, giveaways or contests to promote your business, you'll need to apply for a permit online.

Apply to be a NSW Seniors Card Participating Business
If you'd like to provide discounts to Seniors Card holders at your business, and be listed in the NSW Seniors Discount Directory, you can apply to become a NSW Seniors Card Participating Business.

Apply to be a Companion Card affiliate
If your business charges an admission or participation fee and you'd like to issue a companion ticket at no charge to companion cardholders, you can apply to become a Companion Card affiliate.

Use this list of calculator tools to help make starting and operating your small business easier. 

Pay calculator 
The Fair Work Ombudsman pay calculator gives you the pay rates for employees, and will also work out allowances and penalty rates including overtime.

Tax withheld calculator
If you want to work out the tax you need to withhold from payments you make to employees or other workers, you can use the tax withheld calculator. The calculator applies to payments made in the current tax year.

Superannuation Guarantee Contributions Calculator
Use the calculator to check the super contributions you need to pay your employees. 

Leave calculator
You can find out how much annual leave, annual leave loading, and sick and carer's leave you need to pay your employees, using the online leave calculator.

Notice and redundancy calculator
This tool shows you how much notice and redundancy pay is required under awards, or under the National Employment Standards (NES)

Source url: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/start-or-grow-business-nsw