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Registering a Business Name

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Tips for Selecting a Business Name and navigating the Business Name Registration process

Starting a new business is a big deal and selecting a business name is a crucial first step. Registering a business name is not simply a formality; it can prevent someone else trading with that name and it may create value for your business. In this article, we cover choosing a business name, as well as the steps involved in registration.

Selecting a Business Name

Choosing a business name is one of the first big decisions that a small business owner will make. Deciding on a memorable, functional and relevant name for your new brand or business isn’t easy! 

You might wish to consider a name that is:

  • unique and will distinguish your business from other traders
  • simple for your customers to remember
  • reflects the services or products you provide
  • scalable.

Before you start investing in signage, marketing materials or even uniforms, ensure that the business name you’ve settled on is not already takenYou should consider:

  • Are there any other businesses with similar names to yours?
  • Are there websites or social media handles that have already taken your desired name?
  • Have you asked for any feedback from existing customers or even your friends?
  • Have you checked the ASIC Business Name Availability portal?
  • Are there any existing trademarks on your desired name on IP Australia?

If you don’t discover any roadblocks, then you’re ready to legally register the name of your new brand or business.

When You Need a Registered Business Name

In Australia, you are legally obligated to register a business name if:

  • You are trading under a name that is different from your own legal birth name
  • You include other words with your own name, such as Joan Smith “Party Hire” or John Smith “& Sons”
  • You are operating a company (Pty Ltd) and want to trade under a different name to your company name.

You don’t need to register a business name if the entity is:

  • an individual and the business name is the individual’s name
  • a registered company and the business name is the company’s name
  • a partnership and the business name consists of all of the partners’ names.

You can check all the rules and exemptions in the ASIC Regulatory Guide 235.

How to Register

Before you can register your business name, you’ll need to get an ABNYou can apply online through

Once you’ve got an ABN, you can register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) here.

You will need to submit the following information:

  • ABN
  • proposed business name
  • preferred registration period —1 or 3 years
  • details about the ‘business name holder’
  • Australian addresses for service of documents and principal place of business.

ASIC will conduct a number of checks on your proposed business name to determine whether it is ‘available’ to be registered. This includes checking if the name is:

  • identical (or nearly identical) to a business name already registered
  • undesirable (e.g. offensive);
  • made up of words that are not in the Macquarie Dictionary
  • includes restricted words
  • currently under review with another application.

If your proposed business name is available, you will need to pay the registration fee within 10 business days of lodging your application.

After your business name is registered, you must ensure that you keep all the details up to date. Most particulars such as a change of name holder, address, or to add or remove partners or representatives can all be actioned through the ASIC portal.

You’ll need to display your business name somewhere visible at every place of trading that is open to the public. You should also have your business name and ABN on official correspondence such as quotes, invoices and receipts.

Protecting Your Business Name

It’s important to remember that obtaining a business name won’t necessarily stop others from using it. If you want exclusive rights to your business name, you need a trade mark.

Registering your trade mark gives you:

  • A business asset. The more successful your business becomes, the more valuable your trade mark becomes
  • The legal right to place the ® symbol next to your trade mark
  • Exclusive rights to use your trade mark in Australia
  • The ability to legally deter others from using your trade mark
  • The ability to sell your trade mark, or license it for others to use.

You can find out more and start the process at IP Australia here.

If understanding the in’s and outs of business bookkeeping and accounting isn’t your strong point, you’re not alone (particularly if you’re setting up a new business for the first time). This is why many startups enlist the services of Hunter Valley-based Balanced Beans to guide them through the business set-up process.

Are you Ready to Register your Business Name?

If you need help registering a business name or want to know more about how our award-winning team of Bookkeepers and Accountants can ensure that you’re on the right path for success, reach out to us today.