Frequently Asked Questions

As a business operator, you need to be aware of the commonwealth, state and local government laws that could impact on your business. These include Acts, Regulations, Policies, Orders, Local Laws, Licences and Codes of Practice.

The Australian Business Licence Information Service (ABLIS) can help you determine the licences that you require when operating your business, and any codes of practice that you might need to comply with.

What is a licence?

A licence is a government authority, approval, registration or permit. Licences regulate activities, locations, events, services, equipment, premises, operators and occupations.

For your business to operate you need to obtain the relevant licences, as penalties may apply if you operate without them.

In addition to licences that apply to certain business types or occupations, there are many licences that apply to all businesses. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Registrations for business names and certain business structures;
  • Registrations for taxation and other business transactions with Government, including relating to employment of staff;
  • Location, building and planning controls issued; and
  • Requirements for playing music at your premise or over the telephone (such as music on hold).

What is a Code of Practice?

Codes of Practice describe specific requirements, methods, procedures, specifications, rules, standards of behaviour, codes of conduct or performance measures for various trading situations and certain equipment that may be used by your business. The most well known are the standards available from Standards Australia, but others exist including international standards, and those created by industry. A cost may be involved to obtain copies of them e.g. Building code.

ABLIS provides details of which codes of practice are relevant to your business, with cost and contact details.

You will need to comply with codes of practice that are made or referred to under legislation, or as a condition of a licence that is required for your business, e.g. standards related to the preparation of food, in conjunction with the registration of the food premises.

For your business to operate you need to follow the relevant codes and standards as penalties may apply if you operate without them

It is important that you discuss your intended business with the specified Contact Officer, and your legal or financial advisor(s), to determine the extent of your compliance obligations.

I am buying a business – can I get the licences transferred?

Not all licences can be transferred. Some business licences are transferable, but as the new business owner you will need to apply for others. Some licences may require you to have certain qualifications and experience before you can obtain them. Complete an ABLIS guided search to find licences that apply to your business activity.

I am moving to a different council area or out of the state/territory. Do I need to re-apply?

Not necessarily, though you will need to update your details for those licences. Some Commonwealth and State licences and codes will still be valid, and some licences you hold may be eligible for mutual recognition within another state/territory. However, it is recommended that you do a complete check of all applicable commonwealth, state and local government licences and codes for your new location. You may also be able to apply for mutual recognition for certain licences, by doing a search using the Australian Business Licence Information Service (ABLIS). You may also need to consult your legal and financial advisor(s) for advice for your particular situation.

What does your ABLIS Package contain?

Your ABLIS package includes information to help answer common questions that you may have when starting or operating a business. For example:

  • What licences might I need?
  • What do I need to obtain/renew/vary/transfer a licence?
  • What costs may be involved?
  • What codes of practice might I need to comply with?
  • Who can I talk to/where can I get more information?
  • What forms do I need to fill in?
  • Am I able to lodge an appeal if my application is not approved?
  • Can I apply online?

Packages can be received as an electronic file(s) which include links to relevant forms and reading materials along with useful contacts.

What if I can't find my business activity?

Try re-wording your search, searching under a broader heading, or simplifying the subject matter. If you still are not able to find what you are looking for contact an ABLIS customer support partner for assistance.

What should you do after reviewing your ABLIS package?

If you require further information on the requirements outlined in your ABLIS package contact the relevant officer(s) specified in the package. You should also seek your own independent advice by consulting your legal and financial advisor(s).

What should I do before I start a business?

Before starting business, it is important that you:

  • Develop a business plan
  • ensure that you are suited to your business; there are many self assessment tools online
  • seek professional advice, particularly for financial and legal advice
  • obtain information on insurance, workplace and taxation issues, and
  • familiarise yourself with the Acts, Regulations and other requirements that apply to your business type or occupation by conducting a search based on your business and obtaining an ABLIS Package.

Further information relevant to running a business in your chosen state or territory is available at contact us.

Who can you talk to for more information?

Further assistance and information can be obtained from: