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Licensing

Who needs an APRA licence?

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. It regulates banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance companies, private health insurance companies, friendly societies and most members of the superannuation industry.

APRA licenses these businesses to operate and supervises them to ensure that under all reasonable circumstances, the financial promises made to their beneficiaries (i.e. depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members) are kept.

The rules and requirements for starting a prudentially regulated entity in Australia differ, depending on the type of business that is being established. If you are unsure whether your institution will need an APRA licence then you can talk to APRA’s licensing team to find out more on if you need a licence and, if so, what you will need to do.

To contact APRA’s licensing team, please email Licensing@apra.gov.au.

What is the licensing process?

  1. Early contact with APRA
  2. Submitting an application
  3. Assessment
  4. Post licensing

Early contact with APRA

Talking to APRA’s licensing team in the early stages of setting up your business, and before you submit an application, can be highly beneficial for both you and APRA. It will help you:

  • understand the licensing process and what happens at various stages;
  • understand APRA’s expectations;
  • identify any particular concerns APRA may have early on;
  • finalise your plans and decide your timing for starting up your business; and
  • make sure your application can be processed smoothly with all the appropriate documentation required.

When you are ready to start the licensing process, you should email APRA’s licensing team. The licensing team will then contact you to discuss your proposal.

Submitting an application

After your initial contact with APRA you should be ready to submit your formal application for APRA to assess and decide whether to license your business.

In order to ensure you are familiar with APRA’s requirements and to ensure you include all the necessary information and additional documents, you should read the relevant prudential framework and, where necessary, complete the appropriate forms.

As part of your application you will need to provide information and supporting documentation, as specified in the relevant guidelines or instructions. Examples include details of your:

  • ownership, board and management;
  • three-year business plan;
  • financial resources including level of capital; and
  • risk and information management frameworks.

Before you submit your application, you should review it to check you have provided all of the required supporting information. You should also provide APRA with any other information that you think we should be aware of. If the information you provide is inaccurate, or incomplete, this will delay your application.

Any applicable licensing fee is payable on submission of your application as follows:

  • ADIs $80,000
  • General insurance $80,000
  • Superannuation $20,000 for public offer or extended public offer or $5,500 for non-public offer entity
  • Life insurance $80,000
  • Private health insurance Nil

If you wish you can submit a draft application before your final application to help:

  • identify any potential issues;
  • ensure that you include all the necessary supporting documents; and
  • identify any additional information that may be needed for APRA to assess your application.

APRA is under no legal obligation to provide comments on a draft application, however we will endeavour to provide comments where practicable. Formal assessment of your application will not commence until the applicable fee has been paid.

Assessment

The licensing team will discuss your application with you which could include meetings with APRA either at APRA’s premises or your proposed office site.

The time taken to obtain a licence varies in each case and is dependent on the quality of application submitted, complexity of proposed arrangements and how responsive the entity is in responding to APRA’s requirements and requests. As a guide, it could take APRA from six to 18 months to assess your application.

Whilst your licence application is still pending it is important that you notify APRA of any material changes to the supporting information you submitted. As an example it is important that you notify APRA if there are any changes to the composition of the board and management. Failure to notify APRA of changes could delay your application or possibly result in your application being declined.

APRA will advise you of its decision to approve or decline your application in writing. If APRA declines your application, you will be advised of the reasons and will be given the opportunity to discuss this with APRA.

Post licensing

As a licenced entity you must continue to meet APRA’s prudential standards, proportional to your business, and provide us with relevant information to show you are meeting these standards. You will also be subject to ongoing supervision by APRA and will be subject to an annual supervisory levy.

How to license your business

For more information on the licensing process and application requirements for each industry please visit the relevant industry licensing page.


Phased licensing for Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions

APRA has released a discussion paper consulting on introducing a phased approach to authorisation, designed to make it easier for applicants to navigate the ADI licensing process. To find out more about the proposed approach please see the discussion paper which is available here.