Until recently, business names were obtained from state government bodies and companies were regulated by the Commonwealth body ASIC. ASIC has now taken over the management of business names for all entities and individuals.
What is a business name?
A business name is a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business in Australia. This name allows customers, suppliers and other parties to easily identify the entity that is carrying on the business. Unless you fall under a specific exemption, you will be required to register a business name with ASIC if you carry on a business or trade within Australia. You will not need to register if:
- You are an individual and your name is your business name (your first name and surname)
- Your entity is a registered company and the business name is the company’s name or
- Your entity is a partnership and the business name consists of all the partners’ names.
The ASIC Business Name Register
In May 2012, ASIC launched their new online national register of business names. This registration service has replaced the previous state and territory services, so that businesses only need to register their name once with a single national register, rather than register their name in each state or territory.
This online service will allow you to register a new business name and generally provide confirmation of that registration immediately. You will also be able to check the availability of your business name online via a search function.
The cost for registering a national business name under ASIC’s online service is considerably cheaper than the previous system. ASIC charges $30 for registering your business name for one year or $70 for three years.
Registering a new name using the ASIC business name register
Before registering your business name, you will need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). This can be applied for online and is generally granted immediately.
You should also search the ASIC business name register for the proposed name of your business to check if it is available. Once you have your ABN and your proposed business name is available, you can register the name on the ASIC website at www.asic.gov.au .
What if I have an existing business name that has already been registered?
For existing business names registered in a particular state or territory prior to 28 May 2012, these names will automatically migrate to the new register. ASIC will contact the business name holders in due course when it is time to renew their registrations.
What if I have registered multiple business names in different states or territories?
If your business name is registered in more than on state or territory, each business name will migrate over to the ASIC register, and you may have multiple identical business names registered to you. It is recommended that you keep only one business name registered, preferably the one with the latest registration expiry date and cancel the registration on the remaining business names or just allow your registrations to lapse over time which will effectively cancel the registrations. There is no fee to cancel a business name but keeping multiple business names registered will be inefficient and costly.