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Home  »  Industry  »  Self-Employment: New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS)

Self-employment: New Enterprise Incentive Scheme

Job seekers who are interested in running a small business may be eligible to participate in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).

Phone 1300 063 227 | Email

Click here to download the NEIS application form

What is NEIS?

NEIS is part of jobactive. It is a program delivered by a network of 21 providers who provide individualised help for job seekers to become self-employed business owners. A total of 6,300 NEIS places are available nationally each year.

NEIS training

NEIS training helps job seekers achieve a nationally recognised qualification and is a Centrelink-approved activity for up to 13 weeks. Depending on the type of small business the job seeker is planning, a NEIS provider will refer them to the appropriate training, either Certificate III in Micro-Business Operations, or Certificate IV in Small Business Management.

Who is eligible for NEIS?

A job seeker can participate in NEIS if they are:

  • fully eligible for jobactive or are a Disability Employment Services participant in the Employment Assistance Phase
  • participating in jobactive as a Volunteer and commence in NEIS Assistance before the end of their period of service.

Job seekers must also:

  • be at least 18 years of age at the time they start NEIS
  • be receiving an eligible income support payment such as Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension or Youth Allowance (Other)
  • not convert to the Age Pension before or during participation in NEIS
  • be available to participate in NEIS training (if relevant) and work full time in the proposed NEIS business
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt
  • not have, at any time, received NEIS Assistance for a similar business activity
  • not have received NEIS Assistance in the previous three years.

Recipients of Disability Support Pension, Carers Payment, Parenting Payment (Single) and some Department of Veterans’ Affairs pensions can choose to remain on these payments while participating in NEIS.

How do job seekers access NEIS?

If a job seeker is interested in self-employment, they can contact their local jobactive or Disability Employment Services provider. If their provider considers NEIS to be an appropriate activity, they may be referred to a NEIS provider. Details of NEIS providers are available at

What assistance is available under NEIS?

NEIS provides job seekers with:

  • accredited small business training and business mentoring for up to 52 weeks
  • income support for up to 39 weeks (NEIS Allowance) and NEIS Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks (if eligible)
  • personalised mentoring and support from a NEIS provider in the first year of the new business to help a job seeker put their business idea into practice.

NEIS allowance and rental assistance

Job seekers participating in NEIS will receive NEIS Allowance for 39 weeks of business operation. The NEIS Allowance is equivalent to the single, 22 or over, no children rate of Newstart Allowance, and is paid fortnightly in arrears, subject to a NEIS participant meeting the obligations under their NEIS Participant Agreement.

The amount of NEIS Allowance that a job seeker receives will not be affected by income from their NEIS business. Job seekers can receive income from outside their business (such as from investments or other work) while participating in NEIS. However, NEIS providers will ensure that the NEIS business is their primary, full-time activity. If a job seeker’s external income is greater than twice the basic rate of NEIS Allowance in a given financial quarter, it may affect the amount of their NEIS Allowance.

NEIS participants may also be able to receive NEIS Rental Assistance. This is a fixed rate payment for a period of 26 weeks from the date you first receive NEIS Allowance.

NEIS business mentoring and support

Business mentoring and support is an essential component of NEIS and participants will receive business mentoring during the first year of the operation of their business. NEIS business mentors are people with proven business acumen and experience. They will provide assistance and advice about organisational, financial and marketing issues to help participants to develop their business.

What type of business is allowed?

If a job seeker is eligible, their NEIS provider will assess the business idea to make sure it meets the business eligibility criteria. This means the proposed NEIS business:

  • cannot already be operating on a commercial basis
  • will be independent
  • is lawful and capable of withstanding public scrutiny
  • has been assessed as commercially viable by the NEIS provider
  • is not based on the purchase or takeover of an existing business
  • will not compete directly with existing businesses unless it can be demonstrated that there is an unsatisfied demand for the product or service, or the product or service is to be provided in a new way
  • will be established, located and operated solely within Australia
  • will be structured so the job seeker has and will maintain a controlling interest over the NEIS business for the duration of the job seeker’s time in NEIS
  • will not be a not-for-profit business unless otherwise agreed to by the Department of Employment.

What obligations do NEIS participants have?

Participants are required to undertake NEIS training and operate their NEIS business in accordance with their NEIS Business Plan, and meet all the terms of their NEIS Participant Agreement.

If for any reason a participant wants to change the way their business operates (such as location or hours of operation), they must discuss these changes with their NEIS provider before they take any action.

If a participant makes any changes to their business operating arrangements without approval, their NEIS Allowance payments may be suspended.

Want more information?

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If you are registered with jobactive or Disability Employment Services you can talk to your provider or call the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68* 

If you need an interpreter, please call the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450* and ask for the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68*. If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the National Relay Service. For more information, visit 

*Note that call charges apply for calls to ‘13’ numbers from mobile phone.