Commercial Law

Australian Business Names

Do I need to register my business name?

The name you choose to operate your business under is your business name. It is often your first impression with customers and a key differentiator between your competitors. It is more than a word; business names have the power and emotional influence to create a positive or negative image.

One of the first and most important steps in setting up a new business is deciding what to name it. There are a few key steps that need to be taken to ensure you can legitimately use the name you have chosen and how to ensure others do not use the same name.

Type of business name and structure

The rules for registering a business name and the cost involved varies depending on your business structure. If you intend to operate under a company business structure, your company name must be registered with ASIC. However, if you are trading under your own name, there is no requirement to register a separate business name. An example of the different business structures and fees includes:

  • Public company with share capital (201A) – $463
  • Public company limited by guarantee (201B) – $382
  • Proprietary company (201C) – $463

Search availability of business names

You can check what names are available by going to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) business names register. When searching for the availability of a business name, you should also check out what website URLs and Trademarks are available or might be already in use as this may influence your decision.

Registering a business name

The Commonwealth Government have made it easier to register a business online using the Business Registration Service. By registering your business name, you hold exclusive rights to that name across every State and Territory in Australia.

To register a business name, you will need to:

  • Find an available business name.
  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Provide your individual details including your name, date and country of birth and email address.
  • Provide your residential address. This must be a physical street address and not a PO box. 
  • Provide your service address, which may be a PO box. Your service address will be displayed on the public business register.

With all of this information, you can then apply for a business name and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service. ASIC offers registration periods of 1 or 3 years. At the end of this period, you will need to renew your registration if you want to continue trading under the name. If the registration lapses or you choose not to renew, the name will be made publically available again for someone else to use.

You can register as many business names as you like to your ABN, however you will need to complete a separate application for each additional name and pay the necessary fees.

It is important to highlight that a registered business name does not grant you a trademark, protecting your intellectual property or brand. If you want to protect your name, you will need to register it as a trademark as well.

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