Australian business regulations

Laws on intellectual property, import, export, business and environment, and financial reporting.

Intellectual property laws

Intellectual property (IP) and other intangible assets include patents, trademarks, designs, and secret processes and formulae. 

For more information, visit IP Australia

Patent protection

An Australian patent provides a legal right to stop third parties from manufacturing, using and/or selling an invention in Australia. It may also be used to license someone else to manufacture an invention on agreed terms.

For more information, visit: IP Australia, patents.

Trade mark protection

Australia has a well-developed legal system that protects the intellectual property of businesses and individuals.

For more information, visit: IP Australia, trade mark protection.

Registering a domain name

A domain name is a unique internet site address that allows others to access your website.

For more information, visit .au Domain Administration (auDA) for Domain Name Registration.

Design protection

Australia has a statutory framework for the registration of designs.

For more information, visit: IP Australia, Designs.

Copyright protection

Australian copyright law is designed to encourage and protect those businesses which invest their time and talent in the creation of new material.

For more information, visit: Australian Copyright Council

Business and environment laws

These laws govern how businesses interact with their suppliers, customers and other businesses. They also outline the rights of businesses and business owners when conflicts arise.

Competition laws

Australia has a national statutory framework to ensure that trading is fair for businesses and consumers.

For more information visit:

Consumer laws

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides regulations on unfair contract terms, consumer rights guarantees, product safety laws, unsolicited consumer agreements, lay-by agreements and penalties, and other areas.

For more information, visit: Australian Consumer Law.

Product liability regulation

Australia has a national statutory framework to regulate product safety and information standards enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

For more information visit: 

Environmental legislation

The Australian Government, state and territory governments, and local governments jointly administer environmental protection. Australian Government legislation governs the process of assessment and approval of national environmental and cultural concerns. State and territory environmental protection legislation apply to specific business activities.

For more information visit: Environmental legislation.

Privacy laws

Australia has national privacy legislation, overseen by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), that regulates how businesses can collect, access, and store personal information and communication. There are specific requirements on the management of sensitive information, such as medical records.

For more information, visit: OAIC Privacy law.

Export and import laws

The Australian Government has a number of policies that seek to develop and assist Australian businesses involved in international trade. Regulation also exists to protect domestic industries, consumers, and the environment from harmful and dangerous goods imported from overseas.

Free trade agreements

Australia’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with other countries contain legally binding commitments by each member to liberalise access to their markets for goods and services as well as investment.

For more information, visit: Australia's Trade Agreements.

Tariffs and duties

Australia has commitments under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on tariffs and tariff quotas, export subsidies and domestic support for agricultural products. Goods imported in Australia require classification. Declarations must be made to the Australian Border Force, which also enforces import restrictions.

For more information, visit: Australian Border Force, tariffs.

Import regulations

Businesses considering importing should be aware of government regulations, duty taxes, permits, and quarantine and treatments.

For more information, visit: Importing and your business.

Financial reporting in Australia

Australia aims to promote investor confidence and integrity in the economy, corporations and in capital markets.

Business Activity Statement

Businesses operating in Australia are required to lodge a Business Activity Statement (BAS) to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Certain individuals may also be required to lodge a BAS.

For more information, visit: Reporting Activity Statements.

Financial reporting requirements

Companies operating in Australia are required to prepare and lodge financial reports with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

For more information, visit: ASIC's guide to financial reports.

Australian Stock Exchange reporting requirements

Companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) are bound by continuous and periodic disclosure rules.

For more information, visit: ASX Listing Rules.

Australian Accounting Standards

Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) are legislative requirements for corporations. They must also be applied to all other general purpose financial reports of public and private sector reporting entities.

For more information, visit: AASB, accounting standards.

Contact a specialist

Austrade specialists can answer your questions on investing and finding opportunities in the Australian market.