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Australia Companies

Australian Company Number

An Australian Company Number (ACN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to every company registered under the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001 as an identifier. The number is usually printed in three groups of three digits. It must be quoted on all correspondence and invoices issued by that company.

Australian Business Number

The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique eleven-digit identifier where the first two digits are a checksum. It is issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) which is operated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ABN is a component of the System introduced by John Howard's Liberal government on 1 July 2000.

Classification of Companies

There are 4 different types of businesses that can be registered:

  • Companies limited by shares : Members are usually shareholders and their liability is limited to the nominal (nominal capital is defined as the capital with which the company was incorporated) value of their shares plus any unpaid amount on their shares.
  • Companies limited by guarantee : The difference with these companies is that members can place a guarantee on the company which may only be enforced on the winding up of the company and is not an asset of the company which may be charged during its life. These companies have no share capital unlike companies limited by shares.
    Often non-profit companies and charities use this method.
  • Unlimited liability companies : The unlimited liability company was the original form of registered company under the 1844 UK Act. It is defined in Australia in the corporations act as a company whose members have no limit placed on their individual liability to contribute to the debts of the company.
  • No liability companies : In Australia, companies may only be registered as no liability where:
    • the company has share capital
    • the company‚Äôs constitution states that its sole objects are mining purposes
    • the company has no contractual right under its constitution to recover calls made on its shares from a shareholder who fails to pay them s112(2)

Australian Securities & Investments Commission

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) enforces and regulates company and financial services laws to protect consumers, investors and creditors. ASIC reports to the Commonwealth Parliament, the Treasurer and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. An independent Australian government body, ASIC has regulated financial markets, securities, futures and corporations since January 1991.

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