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How Easy is it to Start a Business as a Non-Citizen in Australia?

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CIO Insider

Australia is the land of sunshine and BBQs. It’s also a great place to start a business if you have an entrepreneurial spirit. However, as a non-citizen, there are a few important steps to take before you can start trading. Read on to find out more.

Business Visas
To start a business in Australia, you need a visa. So far, so good. But with so many visas to choose from, it’s important you apply for the right one. Anyone wishing to start a business needs a Business Innovation and Investment visa. These visas have to be nominated by a state or territory, so your business must fill a skills gap or be something that’s currently in demand.

Head on over to the Department of Home Affairs and follow the online instructions to submit an expression of interest. You can also contact a state or territory government direct. Once you have received an invitation, it is time to apply for a visa.
There are other routes to starting a business in Australia.

To be eligible for a Business Talent visa, you need to show you have an established business with a turnover of $3M+ and a net value of $1.5M. You are also eligible if you have Australian venture capital funding of $1M+. Both of these methods of securing a visa are likely to be quicker than applying for a Business Innovation and Investment visa.
Once you have a business visa, look at registering your business, applying for the necessary permits, and looking for accountants and lawyers to work with. This site has more information about permits and licenses.

Opening a Branch Office or Subsidiary
For established businesses thinking of opening a branch office in Australia, the path is a little different. A subsidiary is a separate limited liability legal entity, and for tax purposes, a legal Australian entity. You’ll need at least one Australian resident as a director.
A branch office isn’t a separate legal entity to your main business, but it must comply with relevant Australian legislation and apply for the correct permits/licenses. The Australian Securities Investment Commission tends to look very closely at businesses opening branch offices in Australia, so be prepared to provide a lot of documentation.

Preparing to Trade
Once you have the basics in place, you’ll need to hire staff and find premises to trade from. For foreign-owned businesses looking to open a branch office, it can be tricky to recruit locals and set up a payroll. One way around this is to use an Australia Employer of Record like NH Global. New Horizons Global Partners can hire staff on your behalf without you having a local entity established. This helps you get the business up and running in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take. They take on the legal liabilities of an employer, so you remain compliant.

Always take professional advice before you consider starting a business or opening a branch office or subsidiary in any country. There are a lot of hurdles to cross and mistakes can be costly.

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