A business name is simply a name or title under which a person, or other legal entity, trades. It not only identifies you to your customers, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and enables your customers to make an emotional connection to your business and brand. For many businesses, the name is often the most valuable asset.
When setting up your business, if you choose to operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust, and not as a company, then you will have to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). If your business name is your, or your partner's, first name and surname, then there is no need to register.
How do I decide on a business name?
Choosing the right name will help ensure you're creating the right image for your business. It'll also help to distinguish it from your competitors. Before applying for a business name, check existing names to determine if your proposed name is available.
You can see if a business name is available by searching existing names using the check business name availability search on the ASIC website, or by commencing an application to register a business name on ASIC Connect. A series of automated tests are applied to your query, and you will be notified immediately after your search if the name you requested is available, unavailable or if it requires further review by ASIC.
Protect your brand
Before registering, you should also check that your proposed name doesn't already have a trade mark registered against it.
Unlike a business name, a registered trade mark can provide legal protection for your brand and enable you to stop others from trading with it. Ensure you have exclusive use of your name now and in the future throughout Australia by applying for a trade mark. You can search your proposed trade mark against existing Australian trade marks at IP Australia Trade Mark Check (TM Check).
If you want to use your business name as part of your web address, take a look at our Register your domain page.
How to register a business name
All business name registrations are managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). The National Business Names Registration System replaces previous state and territory registers. You now only need to register for a business name with ASIC once, and it's registered nationally.
To apply for a business name, you need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN), or be in the process of applying for one and not have been refused. ABN registrations are free.
Once you have an Australian Business Number, you can register a business name online. You can do this through the ABN application or through ASIC Connect.
If you previously registered your business name in more than one state or territory, all your business names have been transferred to ASIC's national business names register. Any of these names can be used to carry on business nationally. You may choose to keep one business name record (e.g. the one with the latest registration expiry) and allow your remaining business names to lapse by not paying the renewal fee.
If you have multiple different business names, or also have a registered company, you are now able to align the renewal dates for those registrations. If you have multiple principal places of business across Australia, ASIC will notify you of which address it intends to use as the principal place of business for sending documents. You may nominate an alternative address for service through ASIC.
If your business had an identical name as another business operating in another state or territory, ASIC will provide additional information on the public register to differentiate affected businesses. This may be the state or territory your business name was first registered in. This identifier doesn't form part of your business name, but is used to allow people to distinguish between identical business names on the public register.
How much does it cost to register a business name?
Find out what the business name payments and fees are for registering or renewing a business name on the ASIC website.
Renew or cancel a business name
ASIC will notify you - usually within 28 days to two months of your renewal due date. You will be able to renew your registration through ASIC Connect. Renewal notices will be sent by mail to the address for service of documents for your business. You can check your business name details on the register to see what address is recorded.
If you don't renew your business name registration on time there are no late fees; however the registration of the business name will be cancelled if the renewal fee is not paid by the due date on the invoice. No extensions will be granted.
If you don't want to renew your business name, you don't need to do anything when you receive your renewal notice. The business name will be cancelled after the renewal date if no action has been taken to renew the name. You can also cancel your business name at any time.
Who can I contact for information?
ASIC manages and administers all business name registrations and renewals throughout Australia.
Visit the ASIC website or call 1300 300 630 if you:
- have an enquiry about your registration
- need to pay your registration renewal
- need to update your business details
- wish to cancel your registration.