Who and what we regulate

AUSTRAC regulates certain business activities in the financial, bullion and gambling sectors. These business activities are called designated services and have been identified because they pose a risk for money laundering and terrorism financing.

If you provide one or more designated services that have a geographical link to Australia, you are a reporting entity and have anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) obligations. Your obligations include reporting certain business activities and transactions to AUSTRAC, record-keeping and having an AML/CTF program.

Next steps:

Under the Financial Transaction Reports Act, we also regulate:

These individuals or businesses have different obligations to reporting entities.

Designated services

The lists on this page will give you a general idea of the designated services and kinds of businesses and organisations AUSTRAC regulates. However, they are not comprehensive and do not include all designated services. The information on this page is not a substitute for legal advice.

For a full list of designated services, see Tables 1 to 4 of Section 6 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

If you aren’t sure whether the services or products you provide are designated services, you should get independent advice.

Many designated services in the financial sector are provided only by authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADIs) such as banks, building societies and credit unions. These services include:

Other designated services in this sector are provided by ADIs and other financial service providers. These include business activities related to:

  • remittance services (money transfers)
  • exchanging digital currency (for example cryptocurrency) for money, or exchanging money for digital currency
  • loans or finance (including hire purchase)
  • investments or securities
  • life insurance and sinking fund policies
  • superannuation fund management (except self-managed superannuation funds)
  • foreign currency exchange
  • issuing travellers cheques
  • issuing money or postal orders with values of A$1000 or more
  • issuing (not just selling) stored value cards such as travel cards and retail gift cards with values of A$5000 of more, or A$1000 or more if they can be withdrawn in cash
  • custodial and depository services (including safe deposit boxes)
  • preparing payroll for other businesses
  • providing pensions or annuities or retirement savings account services
  • financial advisory services provided by the holder of an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) where the service is arranging for clients to receive a designated service
  • specialised financial services involving forfaiting, bills of exchange, promissory notes, letters of credit, factoring, derivatives, foreign exchange contracts, bearer bonds, finance leases or similar.

Bullion is metal used for trading, usually gold, silver, platinum or palladium, authenticated to a specified fineness.

Buying and selling bullion are both designated services.

  • Betting accounts and services
  • Exchanging gaming chips, tokens or currency
  • Paying out winnings, or awarding a prize, in respect of a game or bet
  • Games of chance, or a mix of chance and skill that are played for money (not including lotteries, raffles or bingo games)
  • Gaming machines (such as poker machines).

Reporting entities: types of businesses or organisations that typically provide designated services

A reporting entity is any individual, business or organisation that provides designated services.

You are a reporting entity because you provide one or more designated services, not because of the type of business or organisation you are.

These lists provide examples of the types of businesses or organisations that are typically reporting entities as they usually provide designated services. These lists are not comprehensive. If you aren’t sure whether the services or products you provide are designated services, you should get independent advice.

  • Digital currency (for example cryptocurrency) exchange providers
  • Financial institutions (known as authorised deposit-taking institutions) such as:
    • banks
    • building societies
    • credit unions
  • Financial planners
  • Foreign currency exchange providers
  • Investment services providers
  • Life insurance companies
  • Remittance service providers (money transfer businesses)
  • Superannuation fund managers or providers.

In legal terms, a reporting entity must be a ‘person’. In this context, person means a legal entity, not necessarily an individual. A reporting entity can be:

  • an individual (including a sole trader)
  • a company (such as a private company, a public company, a listed company, and/or a foreign company)
  • a trust (such as a discretionary family trust or a unit trust)
  • a partnership (either incorporated and unincorporated)
  • an association (either incorporated and unincorporated)
  • a corporation sole
  • a body politic.

Non-profit and not-for-profit organisations can be reporting entities.

When the Act describes designated services, it often uses the term ‘carrying on a business’. The Act uses a broad definition of this phrase, and includes business activities whether or not they are conducted on a regular, repetitive or continuous business. So even if you only provide a designated service occasionally or even just once, you are still considered to be carrying on a business under the AML/CTF Act.

A reporting entity must meet the geographical link test.

The geographical link requirement

Reporting entities only have AML/CTF obligations for designated services if these services have a geographical link to Australia.

To have a geographical link to Australia, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. you provide a designated service at or through a permanent establishment that is located in Australia, or

  2. you are a resident of Australia and the designated service is provided at or through your permanent establishment that is located in a foreign country, or

  3. you are a subsidiary of a company that is a resident of Australia, and the designated service is provided at or through your permanent establishment that is located in a foreign country.

See The geographical link requirement for more information.

The content on this website is general and is not legal advice. Before you make a decision or take a particular action based on the content on this website, you should check its accuracy, completeness, currency and relevance for your purposes. You may wish to seek independent professional advice.

Last updated: 17 Jan 2024
Page ID: 6

Was this page helpful?

Was this page helpful?
Please note that feedback you provide here will be used only for the purpose of improving our website. If you have a specific question about your AML/CTF obligations, please contact us.