An individual may carry on a business in their own name via a sole trader. Sole Trader are personally liable for all obligations incurred in the course of the business.
Requires two or more individuals or companies to carry on a business as a partnership. Size is limited to 20 partners, with partnership not being a separate legal entity. Profits are shared and the partners are jointly and separately liable for the liabilities of the partnership.
Two or more individuals or companies may also conduct business as a joint venture. A joint venture is generally formed for a particular project or product, or where the contributions of the venturers are different in type, amount or timing.
A business may be carried on by a trust. The trustee carries on the business for the trust which holds the assets. Trusts are governed by common and contract law and are formed for the benefit of their beneficiaries.
Companies in Australia are either a proprietary company or a public company which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. An Australian company must have a registered office in Australia, with Australian resident directors and company secretaries. However there are no residency restrictions on shareholders or members and no minimum capital requirements on an Australian company. Australian companies are governed by the Corporations Act and common law. Directors and any holding company can be held personally liable for trading whilst insolvent.
Foreign companies can conduct business in Australia via an Australian branch or through an Australian subsidiary which is owned by its parent overseas. To act as a branch the foreign company must be registered with ASIC. Foreign companies when registered with ASIC are generally required to lodge copies of its financial statements and comply with various notifications under the Corporations Act.