Business licenses and insurance.


1st February, 2018

Business licenses and insurance

Understand what business licences and insurances you might need in the time that it takes to wrap a birthday present.

While you line the edge of the table with sticky tape and fold creases in the paper, we’ll take you through different types of business licences and permits, as well as a guide to business insurance.

We’ll have this article wrapped up in about six minutes.

There are many legal obligations you’ll have as a business owner. Applying for various licences and permits, and getting insurance to help protect your business, are two of those obligations.

From a legal standpoint, licences and permits help to make sure that businesses are operating safely. They also help protect public property.

Different types of licences

Your business may need to apply for different operational licences and permits from both the State Government and the Local Council.

There are also industry-specific licences that you might need to apply for. These are usually regulated by state-specific bodies, such as the NSW Food Authority.

Be sure to check out the Australian Business Licence and Insurances website to find out what permits you might need.

Industry-specific licences

There are certain licences and permits that are industry-specific. To give you a better idea of what they cover, we’ve compiled a list of three major industries and the types of regulation that affects them.

Hospitality, Food and Beverage

When it comes to industries that deal with food and alcohol, safety is a big concern.

Licences and permits exist to make sure that food is handled in a way that makes it safe for consumption. An example of this is the licence for a food premises to process/store meat.

Making sure alcohol is distributed and managed safely is another major concern for the government. That’s why you need a licence if you’re planning to serve alcohol at your business.

Council and State regulations regarding how you deal with food and other waste might also affect your business. You may, for example, need to apply for permits to do with waste or other things.

Another type of licence or permit that you might need is one that protects the intellectual property rights of artists and performers. For example, if you want to play music in your venue or store, you might need an APRA Licence.


At first appearance, retail might seem like an industry that would need less regulation than others. When you dig deeper, you’ll find that there are a number of regulations in place to maintain a high level of occupational health and safety, protect workers’ rights and make sure goods and produce are of high quality.

A couple of licences or permits that you might need as a retail business owner are:

  • an Exemption from restricted trading days licence, if you plan to trade on public holidays
  • an Importing restricted items licence if you want to bring in stock from overseas

If your store sells food or drinks, pay attention to the regulations and restrictions that hospitality businesses need to comply with – they might apply to you, too.

Trades and construction

Those in trades-based businesses need to consider a few different licences and permits.
Some of those relate to the way public space or land is used, and others to the way waste is managed. A bunch of others still relate to the health and safety of those on or visiting a building site.

Many of licences that trade-based business must apply for are concerned with protecting and managing public property. Examples of these include the Licence for developing or adapting land, if you plan to build or renovate existing buildings, as well as a Commercial or tradesperson parking permit, which allows you to park in loading zones.

If you plan to distribute flyers to market your business, you might need a permit for that, too.

Guide to insurances

Business insurances exist to protect different aspects of your business, from your workers to your income. They may seem expensive, but they provide a worthwhile level of security and stability if something goes wrong.

Much like licences, the type of business you run and business activities you perform will determine what kind of insurances you need.

There are some general insurances that will affect businesses across all industries, which are affected by the type of business structure you have. For example, if you employ staff, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance, but as a sole trader you’ll have to make provisions for your own life, injury or disability insurance.

We’ve compiled a list of different types of business insurances to help you understand what your business may need.

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Licences, permits and insurances exist to protect consumers, workers, public space and public amenity – as well as you and your business.
  2. The types of licences and permits you’ll need to operate depend on your business activities. The Australian Business Licence and Insurances website is a great resource.
  3. Investing in different insurances means your business is legally and financially protected.


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