Registering a business name
Find out if you need to register your business name and how to do it
A business name, also known as a trading name, is the name under which a person, or other legal entity, trades in Australia. It identifies you to your customers and should differentiate you from your competitors. All business name registrations in Australia are managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Here is our 5 point checklist to determine if you need to register your business name and how to do it.
1. Determine if you need to register your business name
Not everyone needs to register their business name. If you’re trading as a company, you’ll need to register a company name instead when you register your company and apply for an Australian Company Name (ACN).
If you operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust you need to register your business name with ASIC unless your business name is your, or your partner’s, first name and surname.
For example Jane Smith has a fashion business called ‘Jane Smith’. Since she is trading under her own name she does not need to register her business name. However, if Jane wanted instead to name her business, Smith Fashions, she would need to register the business name.
2. Obtain your ABN or ACN
To register your business name you need to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN). It is free to apply for an ABN when you register with the Australian Business Register (ABR). Apply for your ABN with the ABR via here. Once your ABN application is successful or if you get a reference number you can apply to register your business name.
3. Choose a name
You need to identify a name unique to you that says enough about what you do or how you want your business to be perceived. You may like to google it to see if it is already in use from a marketing perspective. You may also want to see if the same domain name is available. Check at http://www.domainregistration.com.au
If your preferred name is free you need to search the ASIC register to see if it is available to you. You won’t be able to register a business name that is identical or too similar to a business name registered to another Australian business or company. You may also like to use IP Australia’s Trade Mark Databases to ensure your proposed company name isn’t already being used as a trademark.
4. Go ahead and register it
Once you have selected your preferred name and confirmed its availability you can go ahead and register it online. There is a fee for registering your business name with ASIC. Fees are outlined here. Registration of your business name applies nationally, so you don’t need to register across different states and territories. ASIC will notify you prior to when your name is due for renewal.
You may wish to secure your domain name as well now (you can always build your website later).
5. Consider if you want to trademark your name
Registering a business name doesn’t provide trademark protection. This is a separate and optional process for protecting your brand. If your name is particularly unique you may wish to protect it from being used by others. Consider whether you will use an unregistered trademark ™ or a registered trademark ® and secure any trademarks if needed.
Don’t forget to check out our 5 Steps to Starting a Business.