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There are always pitfalls to any location you may be considering for your business. Australia has some downsides to look at before you decide to set up shop. 

For business owners looking to start their business on the shores of Australia, the country does have many incentives that make it attractive. Australia ranks 3rd in overall business competitiveness within the Asia Pacific region. However, for every ying, there must be a yang.  A commissioned survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) concluded that 4 out of 5 businesses are concerned about taxes. It is always good to take note and be prepared for business challenges. Thus, here are some of the main challenges that businesses face in Australia. 

Construction Permits 

Under Australian laws, businesses that require construction services are required to complete 11 different procedures pertaining to construction permits. The procedures also include local authorities’ approval and inspections wherever required. These procedures might seem daunting and tedious at first glance. Essentially, taking a total of 112 days from start to end before the permits required are obtained. However, in comparison to other OECD countries, Australia’s process is rather streamlined and cost-efficient.

For businesses requiring construction permits, it is highly advisable to plan in advance. To start,  allocate the necessary documentation, resources, time, and costs for a smooth application process. 

Utilities Access 

When setting up a physical business address in Australia, not only do you have to apply for construction permits, you are required to apply for utilities usage. 

There are a number of procedures under Australian laws that must be adhered to before utilities are workable. These procedures should be done and processed at the stage of incorporation.

Similarly, business owners need to plan properly to account for the estimated 75 days needed to get the paperwork completed for utilities access. 

Taxation Procedures

Taxation procedures are important for every business, regardless of the country of operation. It is important to make sure all your taxation processes and systems are set up. Necessarily, you should put these in place at the initial stage to facilitate a smooth payment process. 

For first time Australian business owners, your business must be registered with the Australian Taxation Office at the stage of incorporation. Additionally, the superannuation levy is important to take note of. Business owners should familiarise themselves with the process and payment procedure with regards to the superannuation levy. 

The superannuation levy is the money paid by the employer for his employees’ retirement. This levy is imposed on every income above AUD$450 (before taxes) that is payable by the employer to his employees. This levy is applicable to income payments for full-time, part-time and casual employees. The minimum levy payable, also known as super guarantee (SG), is at 9.5% of the employee’s base earnings. To read more about superannuation levy, you can visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) here.

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Pitfalls and waterfalls

Importing and Exporting in Australia

Globalisation opens up a plethora of opportunities for businesses to trade, export and import. However, before doing so, Australian businesses are required to have the necessary documentation, approved by the Australian government. Although there is a sizable amount of paperwork to be done, the process takes place for a short period of time. Thus, making it an easy and time-efficient process if the business has already prepared all its necessary documentation. 

For importation documentation, there is no requirement for importers to have in possession an import license to import goods into Australia. However, for certain types of goods, importers might need to obtain permits to clear customs for their imported goods. There is also a list of fees and charges imposed on import entry. Further in-depth information can be found here.

For exportation documentation, the types and nature of goods being exported from Australian businesses determine the type of documentation required. Permission must be sought from the official Australian authorities, the Australian Border Force (ABF). To finish, more information can be found here.


Australia is known for its international presence, having multiple transnational companies setting up shop in the land. Therefore, with regard to work culture and ethics, it is rather easy to assimilate into Australian culture due to the globalisation the business environment has experienced. 

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Process of Incorporating a Business  

Being a developed country with a capable government, Australia’s business incorporation process is highly efficient and streamlined. A study by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) ranked Australia 2nd globally with regard to the ease of setting up a business. For more information on incorporating a business in Australia, you can read on here.

In a nutshell, Australia has a robust and efficient business incorporation system in place. In order to make your business incorporation and operations smoother, having all necessary documentation ready will make application for permits and licenses a breeze. Australia’s government websites also provide a slew of information that answers many questions, increasing transparency of their processes. To sum up, there aren’t many pitfalls to setting up shop in Australia. Generally, The Lucky Country makes it pretty easy if you know what you’re in for. 

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.

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READ MORE: A Guide to Singapore’s Taxation System

FURTHER READING: A Guide to Australia’s Taxation System