What is a business name?

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A business name is simply a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business. In Australia, unless you fall within an exemption, you must register your business name. 

On 28 May 2012, this register became a national register of business names. The purpose of the register is to provide a way to identify the entity that is carrying on business under a business name.

When should I register a business name?

Generally, you will need to register a business name with us if you carry on a business or trade within Australia and you are not trading under your own name.

Exceptions to this include:

  • if you are operating as an individual and your operating name is the same as your first name and surname
  • if you are in a partnership and your operating name is the same as all of the partners' names, or
  • if you are an already registered Australian company and your operating name is the same as your company's name.

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 business name, have a look through our Regulatory Guide 235 which gives some helpful examples.

What a business name registration does not provide

While registering a business name with ASIC is an important part of setting up and running your business, it does not provide exclusive ownership of your business name.

Instead, registering a business name is a legal obligation if you plan to carry on business or trade in Australia using a name other than your own. Through business name registration – and the Business Names Register – consumers are provided with a greater degree of transparency, and the ability to easily see who owns a business name.

It's important to remember that registering a business name doesn't mean you own it, or that you are preventing other people from being able to register and use similar names. Generally, the only way to gain exclusivity over a particular business name is to register it as a trade mark with IP Australia.

Further links


How to protect your business name

Find out why having a registered business name does not give you exclusive trading rights over that name.

Regulatory Guide 235


This guide explains when you must register your business name and how to maintain it after it's registered.

Business Names Registration Act 2011

This Act details the legislative framework for business names is Australia.

You can also watch our YouTube video What is business name and how do I get one to understand what a business name is, why you need a business name, and where to go for more information if you want exclusive rights to the name.

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Last updated: 23/03/2016 03:08