Frequently asked questions for business names
Browse through our frequently asked questions to answer any business name questions you may have.
If you are seeking more information you might also like to download our Regulatory Guide 235 or feel free to Ask us a question online.
Q. What will happen if I had identical business names registered in multiple states/territories?
A. If your business name is registered in more than one state or territory, all your business names will have transferred to ASIC's national business names register. You may now have multiple identical business names registered to you. You can choose to keep one business name record (e.g. the business name with the latest registration expiry date) and cancel the registration of your other remaining business names. There is no fee to cancel a business name.
Keeping only one business name may reduce the administrative burden of maintaining several business name registrations (including receiving multiple notices for each registration) and minimise the potential for confusion from consumers in determining the business name holder’s correct details.
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 the IP Australia website.
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.
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.
You can request a reprint of the Record of Registration by contacting us.
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. How can I register a franchise name?
A. Registering a franchise name is the same as registering any other business name. We will apply the same tests to check if the name is available. You do not need to give us a copy of a letter of consent to register a franchise name. It is up to you to make sure you are complying with the terms and conditions of your particular franchise agreement.
There may also be other legislation – which we don’t administer – that applies to carrying on business as a franchise. You should seek your own professional advice if you are unsure of your obligations when entering into a franchise agreement.
Q. I want to register a business name which is identical to a registered company using the ABN of my trust?
A. Where you seek to register a business name using the Australian Business Number (ABN) for a trust and the name is identical to that of a trustee company, the name will show as not available. This is because the name is already taken by the trustee company.
The trustee company is the only entity that is entitled to register the name as a business name. You have the option to register the business name to the ABN of the trustee company. After the business name has been registered the trustee company can initiate the process of transferring the business name to the trust.
Q. How can I make changes to my business name registration details?
A. You can 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 email address, address for service of documents or business name holder details. You cannot change your registered business name.
If you want to trade under a new or different name, or you have misspelt the name you must register a new one.
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. I am trying to update my business name details in ASIC Connect but my business name is not listed under the lodgements and notifications tab?
A. To perform any business name transaction in ASIC Connect you must first link your business name to your account. You will need your ASIC key to do this.
Need more help? See our Support for business names page for easy to understand user guides on linking a business name to you account.
Q. My business name is not appearing under my ABN on the Australian Business Register website. How can I update this?
A. If your business name was registered before 28 May 2012, you may not have been required to provide an Australian Business Number (ABN). However, you can add an ABN to your business name holder details by conducting an Add ABN transaction in ASIC Connect.
Q. Can I change the ABN which is linked to my business name to another entity?
A. No, you will need to transfer the business in ASIC Connect using the cancel/transfer business name transaction. A secure transfer number will be sent to the email address recorded for the business name. If there is no email address recorded, we will send it to the business name’s address for service of documents recorded on the Business Names Register. Once the secure transfer number has been received the business name can be registered to the new ABN using the transfer number in ASIC Connect.
Q. I am not sure when my business name is due for renewal?
A. You can check the renewal date for your registered business name on ASIC Connect. Select the Business Names Register tab and search within the Business Names Index which you select from the drop-down box.
Q. Can I have an extension of time to pay my fees?
A. No. You will have until the due date shown on the renewal notice to pay the registration renewal fee.
Q. Will ASIC waive fees in exceptional circumstances?
A. No, ASIC does not have the authority to waive fees for the registration or renewal of a business 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.
Q. My business name is identical to another business name. Can I transfer it to a new holder?
A. Yes, if the identical business name was registered before 28 May 2012.
Q. Why do I have to cancel my business name to transfer it? Can't I just change the proprietor?
A. The law does not allow you to transfer or assign a business name to another holder. However, you can choose to cancel the business name and notify us of your consent to transfer the business name to another holder.
This can be done in the same transaction. When you submit a request to cancel the business name, select the Cancel and transfer option. We will then email you the transfer number.
You can then provide this number to the new proposed business name holder, where they can use it to apply to register for the business name. If the new registration does not occur within three months from cancellation, the transfer number will expire and the name will become available for the public to register.
Q. Where will the secure transfer number be sent?
A. Once we have received your request to transfer your business name, we will send you a notice with the secure transfer number. You must pass this on to the new holder so they can apply to register the business name in their name.
If you have provided an email address, you will receive the notice within minutes of completing your transfer transaction. Otherwise you will receive the notice by mail at the service of documents address of the business name.
Q. Can I receive a refund if I transferred the business name shortly after paying the renewal?
A. Once a business name has been transferred to a new holder, the previous holder cannot request a refund of their renewal fees. Renewal periods are non-transferable to any new business name holder.