Registering a business name

Registering a business name is a vital step in your business start-up, branding and compliance processes.

A business name is the name you are using to conduct business under or want to trade as.

When you set up your business, work out if you need a business name and select one that suits your business. You will then need to be aware of how to manage the registration requirements of the name for the life of the business.

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Do you need to register a business name?

In Australia, there are certain circumstances when you will need to register your business name. Sometimes, you do not need to officially register a business name.

Before you choose a name for your business, you should find out if it must be registered.

See the table below for scenarios of when you might want or need to register a business name.

ScenarioRegistration requiredExample
Operating your business as a sole trader under your personal legal name No If Sam Whitlock was operating a business and called it 'Sam Whitlock', they would not need to register a business name
Operating a business partnership under the names of the partners No If Sam Whitlock and Alex Zhao were operating a business called 'Sam Whitlock and Alex Zhao', they would not need to register their business name
Operating your business under personal legal name plus other words Yes If Sam Whitlock has a business called 'Sam Whitlock Catering', they would need to register the business name
Using a combination of words and phrases as your business name Yes If Sam Whitlock operated a business called 'The Event People - We Cater Events', they would need to register their business name
Having a company (Pty Ltd) that is operating under the registered name No If Sam Whitlock has a company called 'Event Co Pty Ltd' and intends to also trade under this name, there is no need to register a separate business name
Having a company (Pty Ltd) and operating your business under a different nameYesIf Sam Whitlock has a company registered as 'The Event Co Pty Ltd' but wanted to trade as 'Events are Us', they would need to register a business name associated with the company structure

Choosing the best business name

An effective business name should communicate what your business does and be catchy and memorable. Choosing the right name can help you build brand awareness and customers will quickly come to associate your business name with your brand.

Spend time researching business names before you start your business. This helps you avoid wasting time, effort and money having to change the name in the future.

Selecting your business name – checklist

Use this checklist to help you choose the right business name for your business:

  • Is the business name available? You can check if a name is available at the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).
  • Does the business name suit your brand?
  • Is the name easy to say, hear and write or spell? This will help make sure people can find you through internet searches when, for example, they hear radio or podcast ads you run.
  • Will the business name work in the future? Consider if the name will work if you change your goods or services.
  • Has the business name already been trademarked?
  • Is the business name appropriate? Consider your customers' cultural expectations and ensure the name is not offensive or problematic.
  • Is a potential competitor currently using your business name or one that is similar?
  • Could your business name negatively affect the business in the future? Consider the financial or reputational risks that could come from having to change the name in the future.
  • Is the business name available on key marketing channels (e.g. social media, domain name for your website)?

For more information, read:

How to register your business name

You can register your business name using the Business Registration Service.

  1. Go to the Business Registration Service and choose the Business Name checkbox.
  2. Prepare all documents required.
  3. Start the form.
  4. Save your form progress.
  5. Complete within 28 days.
  1. Go to the Business Registration Service and choose both the Australian Business Number and the Business Name checkboxes.
  2. Prepare all documents required.
  3. Start the form.
  4. Save your form progress.
  5. Complete within 28 days.

Managing and using your business name

As you operate your business, you will need to ensure that you manage your business name to ensure that the name remains current and protected.

You should ensure that you publish the registered name on all official material and media, for example:

  • business letters
  • invoices and receipts
  • notices
  • websites and domain names
  • signage
  • vehicle livery.

If you are operating a business in Queensland that is open to the public, you must display your registered name clearly outside all your business locations.

If you want exclusive use of your business name, you must trademark it to ensure other brands cannot use it.

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