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Are Australian companies registered on a national basis?
(By Brendan Muller, Operations Manager of Incorporator.com.au and TradingAs.com.au, September 2014)

The answer is ‘Yes’*
(*Putting aside more obscure incorporated bodies like incorporated associations etc.)

Once an Australian company is incorporated (or registered – same thing just different terminology) it has a national legal status and is equally valid and operational in every state and territory of Australia.

This was not always the case looking back across Australian legal and commercial history.

Until as recently as the 1980’s, each Australian state had its own company registration regime which caused significant issues of inconsistencies, duplication and administrative inefficiencies.

In a successful attempt to rectify all this, the various Australian state governments referred their constitutional powers over company registration and regulation to the Australian Commonwealth Government.

And a practical effect was that from that time forward each Australian company would enjoy a national legal status – even including various companies registered before the changes.

There is, though, a legacy of the old system which lives on in the current arrangements.

When a company is registered nowadays, it is a requirement that the application specifies in which Australian state or territory the company ‘is taken to be registered’ which is a carefully worded phrase upon close examination. Not where the company ‘is to be registered’ but ‘is taken to be registered’.

Mostly, it is of very little consequence which state or territory is specified (most applicants just put their home state).

But very occasionally it might make a difference.

One example is that to qualify for a state government grant, the particular state government might insist that the company be ‘taken to be registered’ in the state which is awarding the grant.

None of this, however, affects the general principle that each Australian company has a national legal status and is equally valid and operational in every state and territory of Australia.