Registering a business name
A business name is a trading name that helps customers recognise your business. A good name creates an impression and adds value to your business. Register your name before you spend money on signage, printed material, name tags or uniforms displaying your business name.
When you must register a business name
You are legally obligated to register a business name if:
- you include other words with your name, such as Joan Smith Party Hire or John Smith & Sons
- you are trading under a name that is different from your own name
- you are operating a company (Pty Ltd) and want to trade under a different name to your company name.
Choosing a business name
Choose a business name that is easy to pronounce, spell and remember. It should not be offensive or misleading. Your business name can’t be identical to, or likely to be mistaken for, an existing business name or company name already registered in Australia.
If you think you might want to trade overseas, you should check the suitability of your business name in other countries.
You should also check that your business name is able to be registered as a domain name for your website and email. You can check if your name is available and locate a domain name registrar through the Australian Domain Name Administrator (auDA).
Checking your business name is available
Once you have chosen a name, you can contact the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to check that the business name is available.
Registering your business name
Try the Australian Government’s new Business Registration Service to use a single form to apply for key business and tax registrations, including an ABN, business name, goods and services tax (GST), pay as you go (PAYG) withholding and fringe benefits tax.
Before you register a business name, you will need to have, or apply for, an Australian Business Number (ABN). When you apply for an ABN online through the Australian Business Register you can link straight to ASIC Connect to register your business name.
ASIC charge a fee for registering a business name. Your business name will not be registered until payment is received.
You can register your business name online through:
You will receive a record of registration when you register or change a business name, or when an owner's name changes.
Displaying your business name
You must clearly display your registered business name outside your Queensland business locations if the place of business is open to the public.
You must publish your registered business name on all business correspondence and documents, such as business letters, invoices, account statements, publications, official notices, orders and receipts.
There may be situations where the law may not require a business to do this. You can find more information about these exemptions in the Business Names Registration Act 2011.
Protecting your business name
Registering a business name does not give you the same rights as registering a trademark. You do not own this name or have exclusive rights to use the name.
If you want to protect your business name from being used by a competitor, you'll need to register a trademark. You can then control the use of the name or any part of the name.
Registering a business name will not stop someone who has registered the same name as a trademark from using it. You should always conduct a trademark search before deciding on a business name.
You can search for existing registered trademarks using IP Australia’s Australian Trade Mark Search.
Find out more about protecting your business name from ASIC.
Renewing your registration
To keep using your business name you need to renew your registration before the expiry date. If you don't renew your registration, your business name will be removed from the register and another business will be free to use it. You could then be stopped from using the name you have been trading under.
Transferring a business name
If you're selling your business, you’ll need to transfer the business name if the new owner wishes to use it. If you’re the new owner you'll need to register the name using the transfer number. Note that transfers incur a fee.
Cancelling a business name
A business name can be cancelled in 2 ways:
- voluntary cancellation – if you no longer need your business name you will need to apply to cancel it through the ASIC Connect portal. There is no fee for cancelling a business name.
- ASIC-initiated cancellation – ASIC may cancel the registration of a business name in certain circumstances.
- Visit ABLIS (Australian Business Licence and Information Service) to find out what other registrations, permits or licences you may need for your business.
- Read about your other business rights and responsibilities.
- Learn how to protect your business idea.
- Last reviewed: 25 Jul 2017
- Last updated: 10 May 2018