Small business-registering a business name

A business name is simply a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business.
Business names can be held by:
  • an individual

  • a body corporate

  • a corporation sole

  • a body politic

  • a partnership

  • any other unincorporated association or body of persons

  • a trust, or

  • a superannuation fund.

Generally you will need to register a business name with ASIC if you carry on a business or trade within Australia, unless you fall within certain exemptions.

For instance, you will not need to register a business name with ASIC if:

  • you are carrying on a business as an individual and the business name is your name, i.e. your first name and surname

  • the business is being carried on by a registered company and the business name is the company's name, or

  • the business is being carried on by a partnership and the business name is all of the partners' names.

ASIC is responsible for registering business names. There is an initial registration fee to register a business name. Business names can be registered for one or three years. At the end of that period, business names need to be renewed for a further one or three years. We will notify the business operator when renewal is due.

It is important to understand that registering your business name does not give you ownership over that name, nor does it provide you with any protection for your brand or trading name. This means that registering a particular name does not stop another person from registering a similar name nor will it give you the exclusive right to use the name or part of the name.

The obligation to register a business name is a legal obligation that is entirely separate to any steps that business owners may want to take to protect any intellectual property in a name or brand.

If you are unsure about whether you need to register a business name, take a look at ASIC's Regulatory Guide 235 which provides some helpful examples.

You can register a business name on ASIC's website.

More about this topic

Members of a company

Starting a company

Australian company numbers

Are you allowed to operate a business?

Corporate key

What is a company?

Appointing alternate directors

Minimum officeholders

Shares and the share register

Knowing your legal requirements - business names

Cancelling a business name

 

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Starting a small business

Compliance for small business

Closing a small business

Resources

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Last updated: 04/11/2013 12:00