A cooperative is a legal entity that is jointly owned and democratically controlled by its members.

You can form a cooperative with a group of five or more people.

You may want to do any of the following:

  • save money on goods or services
  • use distribution and marketing influence of the group
  • share investments, resources and information.


Cooperatives can't trade their shares on the open market and are structured to mutually benefit all members, rather than individuals.

Each cooperative member has equal status and voting rights, and can own no more than 20% of shares.

Like other business structures, a cooperative must keep records of its meetings, finances and members.

As co-operatives operate under uniform national legislation, you can read more about cooperatives on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website and the NSW Fair Trading website.

Distribute surplus funds

Cooperatives that make a profit can do either of the following:

  • distribute surplus funds to its members - called a distributing co-operative
  • use surplus funds to support its activities - eg: a community organisation - called a non-distributing co-operative.

Register a cooperative

To register a cooperative in the Northern Territory (NT), most of its activities need to be conducted in the NT.

How to register

Follow these steps.

Step 1. Hold a formation meeting to pass the rules of the cooperative, and a disclosure statement if you are forming a distributing cooperative.

Step 2. Fill in Form C1 - Application to approve co-operative rules and formation disclosure statement.

Step 3. Fill in a register a cooperative form.

Step 4. Submit your forms, along with copies of supporting documents, to Licensing NT by mail, email or in person.

Apply for a merger

Your cooperatives may merge with another or others.

The new cooperative will be made up of all the members, assets, liabilities and undertakings of the cooperatives that want to merge.

It will also have a new name and new rules.

How to apply

Follow these steps.

Step 1. Fill in a name and disclosure statement for mergers of co-operatives form.

Step 2. Submit your form and fee to Licensing NT.

Apply for a takeover

Your cooperative may take over all or part of another cooperative, or other cooperatives, giving it all of the following:

  • members, assets, liabilities and undertakings of all the co-operatives involved in the takeover
  • the existing name and rules of the co-operative taking over the other/s.

A take over is known as a 'transfer of engagements' under Co-operatives National Law.

How to apply

Follow these steps.

Step 1. Fill in a disclosure statement for transfer of engagements form.

Step 2. Submit your form and fee to Licensing NT.

Help from Licensing NT

Cooperatives are administered by Licensing NT under the Cooperatives National Law.

For help setting up or winding up your co-operative, contact Licensing NT.


For information on fees contact Licensing NT Darwin.

You can pay cooperative fees to the Territory Business Centre by phone, email, mail, fax or in person.

You can pay by cash, cheque or credit card.

Fees are exempt from GST.

Last updated: 12 October 2018


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