Q. Does every business need to register a business name?
A. No, you don't need to register a business name if, for example, you only trade under your own name (e.g. GLM Pty Limited or Jane Smith).
Q. Can I have multiple business names held by the same entity with the one ABN?
A. Yes. Multiple business names can be registered to a single ABN.
Q. If you have a trademark, do you also need to register a business name?
A. Each business should assess whether this is needed depending on their circumstances. A business name registration is separate from a trademark and does not protect your trademark rights. For more information on trademarks and intellectual property visit www.ipaustralia.gov.au .
Q. What is a trading name and is it different to a business name?
A. A trading name is the name that an entity or person trades under, or is known as, by its suppliers or customers.
A trading name is also known as a business name if you carry on business or trade under that name in Australia.
Q. Do I need to register my trading name as a business name with ASIC?
A. If you carry on a business under a trading name in Australia you will generally need to register the name with ASIC as a business name unless an exemption applies.
You do not need to register a business name if you are trading or carrying on a business under your own entity name. For example, where the entity is:
an individual and the business name is the individual’s name (their first name and surname)
a partnership and the business name consists of all of the partners’ names.
The law does not allow any changes from the business holder’s name if you wish to rely on the above exemptions. For example, if your name is John Smith, and the name of your business is ‘John Smith & Co’, you will need to register the business name ‘John Smith & Co’.
If you are unsure about whether you are exempt from registering a name, or whether you are carrying on a business or trading within Australia, take a look at our Regulatory Guide 235 Registering your business name, which gives helpful examples.
Q. Do I need to register my trading name as a business name if it is displayed on the Australian Business Register?
A. Some businesses have linked their trading names to their Australian Business Number (ABN) in the Australian Business Register (ABR). This means their trading names are displayed on ABN Lookup.
Since the start of the national business name reforms on 28 May 2012, the ABR has stopped collecting or updating trading names information except where the name is registered as a business name with ASIC. However, trading names that were collected before 28 May 2012 are currently displayed in ABN Lookup but cannot be changed or updated.
From 1 July 2014 it is expected that the ABN Lookup will stop displaying all trading names that are not registered business names.
If you wish to continue to use your trading name to identify your business, this is a timely reminder to register it as a business name with ASIC.
Business name availability
Q. Before I register a new business name, can I check if the name is available?
A. Yes. You can check the availability of a new business name by searching the business names register for existing names before applying for a new business name.
You should also check that your proposed name doesn’t already have a trade mark registered against it.
Q. Will ASIC issue a business name certificate and do I need to display it?
A. There is no legal requirement for us to issue, or businesses to display, certificates of registration. However, in response to customer feedback we will issue a record of registration following registration and each renewal. You do not need to display the record of registration, although you may wish to. You are still required to display the business name.
Q. Where can I go for in-person help to get started?
A. Everything you need to know is available online via our website or through our information line, 1300 300 630 (within Australia) or + 61 3 5177 3988 (outside Australia). You can also pick up an information sheet and get some high level guidance if you visit an Australian Taxation Office service centre or a Business Enterprise Centre.
Q. What if I disagree with the outcome of my application to register a business name?
A. You can seek a review of an ASIC decision by lodging your request within 28 days of being notified of the decision. You should submit a copy of your application. If you are still not satisfied with our decision, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for further review.
Q. When I checked the availability of my proposed business name, I was told it was available. But when I submitted my application to register the name, I was then told it was not available. Why?
A. Someone else may have registered the name while you were completing your application. Until you submit your application, the name is not held for you. If you close a transaction and resume it later, you may wish to check the availability of the name again.
A. If you no longer require your business name you do not need to do anything when you receive your renewal notice. We will cancel the business name after the renewal due date if no action has been taken to renew the name.
Q. What are the differences between company annual reviews and business names renewals?
A. Companies and business names are governed by different legislation. Registering a company is different to registering a business name and both have different statutory fees for their ongoing registration.
Updating business name details
Q. How can I make changes to my business name registration details?
A. Use ASIC Connect to update business name details. You must ensure your details in the business names register are kept up-to-date. For example, you may need to update your contact address or business name holder details.
Q. If I have an existing business name (registered before 28 May 2012) without an ABN, will I need to add the ABN later or update it during renewal?
A. No, this is not compulsory, although you can update the ASIC register by adding the ABN to your business name record if you wish to. Your updated business name record showing your ABN will appear on ASIC Connect Search after the transaction has been processed.
As you can no longer update your trading name with the ABR, adding your ABN to your business name record with ASIC is a way to show the link between your business and your ABN.
Q. Why would I ask ASIC to suppress information from appearing on the public register?
A. You might ask us to do this if you believe there is a risk to the personal safety of an individual, their family or individuals in their place of business. We will consider each application on its merits.
Q. How long will it take for ASIC to send me an ASIC key after I request one?
A. We will process your request as a high priority, generally within one to two days. If you have a more urgent requirement, you should contact us by telephone.
Payments and fees
Q. What payment options are available when registering a new business name?
A. You can 'Pay now' by credit card (MasterCard or Visa) using a secure online payment service or 'Pay later' by invoice (BPay and Australia Post). If you choose to pay later, you will need to pay within 10 days of submitting your application to register a business name. See more information on payments.
Q. How much does it cost to register or renew a business name?
A. The fee depends on the period for which you wish to register the business name. You may select a registration period of one year for $33 or $76 for three years. The same fees apply to renewals.