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Trading name

A ‘trading name’ refers to an unregistered name that businesses could use before the introduction of the National Business Names Register on 28 May 2012.

A trading name is not a registered business name. If you wish to continue using a trading name, you need to register it as a business name.

The Australian Business Register and ABN Lookup still display unregistered trading names however they will be removed from November 2023 and only registered business names will be displayed.

A transition period from 28 May 2012 to 31 October 2023 is in place to allow businesses affected by the removal of trading names sufficient time to inform their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders of any changes to the name that they use to conduct their business.

Go to the ASIC website to learn more about registering your trading name as a business name.

Business name

A registered business name helps customers find, identify and connect with your business. You can have multiple business names linked to your Australian business number (ABN).

Business name registration

If you want to trade your business under a specific name, you need to register it as a business name with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

It’s an offence to carry on business under an unregistered business name unless you trade under your own name such as Mary Jones. If you want your business to trade under a name that is different from your legal name, then you’ll have to register it as a business name.

Check if a business name is available

You cannot register a business name that is identical to one that has already been registered.

Use our tool to check if your proposed name is available to register – either as a business name or a domain name.

Note: This tool is only an indication that a business name is available. It does not guarantee that you can register the business name with ASIC.

Examples of when you need to register a business name

  • Tessa Le owns a cupcake business as a sole trader. Her legal name is Tessa Le. She wants her business to be known as Tessa Le’s Cupcakes.
  • Clare Smith and Ari Tilo run a plumbing business together, operating as a partnership. Their partnership’s legal name is Clare Smith and Ari Tilo. They want their business to be known as Clare and Ari’s Plumbing.
  • A proprietary limited company is registered with ASIC under its legal name Alex Singh Pty Ltd. The company wants to operate under the name ‘Ace Consulting’.

Examples of when you don’t need to register a business name

  • Charlotte Nand owns an accounting business and operates as a sole trader. Her legal name is Charlotte Nand. She is happy to operate her business as a sole trader under her legal name.
  • Chris Nguyen and Josh Bright have a building business together, operating as a partnership. Their partnership’s legal name is Chris Nguyen and Josh Bright. They are happy to operate under their legal name.
  • A proprietary limited company is registered with ASIC using its legal name Nic Garcia Pty Ltd. The company will operate under the legal name.

You only have to register your business name once. The business names register is National and once registered, the business name can be used Australia wide.

Protecting your business name

A registered business name does not give you exclusive rights to the name. If you want to have exclusive rights and stop others using your business name, apply for a trade mark.

A trade mark gives you exclusive trading, branding or ownership rights over your business name. If you think your business would benefit from a trade mark, head to IP Australia’s trade mark page to find out more.

Changing a registered business name

You can’t change a registered business name, even if you only want to make a slight change. If you want to change the name you trade under, you must register it as a new business name. Once you’ve registered the new name, you need to cancel your existing name.

Changing your business name doesn’t affect your legal name. Your contracts won't be legally affected if you change your business name.

Read next

Find out what steps you need to take next to help set up your business.