Register your company
Before registering as a company
Find out more about setting up and running a company, before you decide to register as a company. A company has different legal, financial and record keeping responsibilities compared to other business structures.
Understand directors' responsibilities and personal liability
Read the Sole trader to a company section for more information on directors' responsibilities, your potential personal liability and company tax obligations. These obligations affect your legal requirements when running a company. Read How to start a company on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website to understand the requirements before deciding to register a company.
How to choose and register a company name
When you register as a company you can choose to register a company name, although a company name is not compulsory. The name of your company can be its Australian Company Number (ACN), the unique number automatically given to a company by ASIC when it’s registered. You can select to use the ACN as your company name when you complete your application through ASIC and you won’t have to nominate a name.
If you decide to use a company name it must show the legal status of the company. A proprietary company must include the word 'Proprietary' or the abbreviation 'Pty' in its name. It must also show the liability of its members, unless the members' liability is unlimited. For example:
- If the liability of the company's members is limited to the amount unpaid on their shares, the company name must end with the word 'Proprietary Limited'.
- If the liability of the members is unlimited, the company name will only end with the words 'Proprietary'.
Restrictions on company names
You can only choose a company name not already registered to a company or business. Special approval is also required to use certain words in your company name. Check out ASIC’s Company name availability page to learn more.
If your company carries on business in a name different to your registered company name, then you must register the business name.
Your business name does not protect your intellectual property or brand. Understand the differences between a business name and a trade mark before deciding whether to register a trade mark.
What's an Australian Company Number (ACN)?
An ACN is a unique nine-digit number that every company in Australia has.
ACNs are managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Do I need an ACN?
If your business is a company, then you'll need an ACN. By law, an ACN must be shown on a number of documents, including:
- accounting statements, such as invoices
- any documents you lodge with ASIC
- receipts (if they're not machine generated, e.g. from a cash register)
- orders for goods and services
- business letterheads
- official company notices
- cheque, or any documents that represent a legal amount of payment
- written ads making a specific offer that can be accepted (such as by completing an order form).
If your company also registers for an ABN, then your ACN will form part of your ABN. In these cases, you won't need to display your ACN if your documents already display your ABN and company name.
For reasons why you may like to register an ABN for your company, check out our article on Australian Business Number (ABN).
How do I register for an ACN?
You are automatically given an ACN when you register a company with ASIC.
What to do...
- Find out how to register a company and company name at ASIC's How to start a company page.
- Search ASIC Connect to see if your proposed name already exists.
- Use IP Australia's Trade Mark Databases to ensure your proposed company name isn't already being used as a trade mark.
- To register your company name, complete and lodge Form 201 - application for registration as a company, together with the prescribed fee. You can lodge it in person at any ASIC Service Centre or by mail to: ASIC, PO Box 4000, Gippsland Mail Centre, VIC 3841.