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Do I have to ‘renew’ my company every year?
(By Brendan Muller, Operations Manager of Incorporator.com.au and TradingAs.com.au, September 2014)

The short answer is ‘No’.

However, there is just a bit more to the story so it’s worth clarifying things a little further.

A very important notion to grasp first off is that an Australian company (most usually a Pty Ltd) is a separate legal entity in itself and therefore has a legal life of its own which (in theory at least) is endless until, perhaps one day, it’s properly and legally finalised.

Never, ever think of your Pty Ltd company as merely a ‘company name’ that might need ‘renewing’ because it’s way more than that.

Once incorporated, it’s alive and out there with its own life, just like you are.

Now this all stands in complete contrast to things such as registered business names and licences of all sorts which have no legal lives of their own as such but which are simply attached to something or someone who does have a legal life (by the way, we have a sister site, TradingAs.com.au, for registering business names).

As a result, things like business names and licences (generally speaking) do require renewing from time to time.

For example, an Australian business name (also known as a trading name) must (generally speaking) be registered to a ‘person’ or other entity with a legal life that possesses a valid ABN (Australian Business Number).

Very often this ‘person’ with a legal life is exactly that – a person - but at the end of the day the registered business name belonging to him or her really is just the name that this person is known as in business – call it a face that he or she shows the world or a shingle that is put above the entrance to a shop.

So, for example, the sole trader, Mike Smith, is known to his customers as Smithy’s Lawn & Garden Maintenance (because Mike Smith advertises his business to his customers under that name). And every so often, Mike has to renew the registration of this business name. (By the way, our sister site, TradingAs.com.au, has a business name renewal service accessible here).

Mike Smith (a person with a legal life of his own) doesn’t need to ‘renew’ himself or his own personal name just his (registered) business name.

It’s exactly the same with companies.

No need to ‘renew’ them as such.

But there is one thing more to be aware of here which may save potential confusion ...

Every year (usually on the anniversary of a company’s incorporation) ASIC - the Australian Securities & Investments Commission - will post to the registered office of the company what’s known as a Company Statement.

But do not think of this as a renewal.

Rather it’s a summary of information that ASIC is holding about the company such as addresses, names of directors and shareholders etc.

If all the information is correct, there is nothing for the directors to do except pay the ‘annual review fee’ invoice which accompanies this statement. This is around the $250 mark (as at the time of writing, September 2014).

Obviously, if the information is not correct, the directors of the company are obliged to update ASIC as to these changes.