Selecting, using and changing an Australian company name

By Vivian Michael | Business Structures

Selecting, using and changing an Australian company name

Photo by Kieron Mannix on Unsplash

Here are the rules you need to know about to select, use or change an Australian private company name.

In a rush, jump ahead!

When a name won’t be available

A name is available unless it’s:

  • identical to a name that’s reserved or registered; or 
  • identical to a name that’s that’s held or registered on the Business Names Register; or
  • Unacceptable.

No-name companies 

Under section 148 of the Corporations Act, a company may either use an available name OR the expression “Australian Company Number” followed by the company’s ACN.

Acceptable abbreviations

You may use the abbreviations in the table below with or without full stops. 

Word

Abbreviation

Company 

Co or Coy

Proprietary

Pty

Limited

Ltd

No Liability

NL

Australian

Aust.

Number

No

And

&

Australian Company Number

ACN

Australian Business Number

ABN

Reserving a company name 

You may reserve a name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and if the name is available, ASIC must reserve it.

The reservation will last for 2 months running from the date the application lodgement.

And, you may request an extension of the reservation and it’s up to ASIC whether they accept your extension.

Where to use your company name 

You’ll need to use your company name on all public documents and negotiable instruments like documents guaranteeing the payment of specific amount of money.

However, you don’t need to use your ACN on cash register receipts.

Names  you can’t use 

You can’t use a company name with ‘limited’, ‘no liability’ or ‘proprietary’ or an abbreviation of those words. To avoid any confusion, you can use these at the end of your company name if that's what you've selected on your company registration form. 

Changing a company name 

To change a company name, you must pass a as special resolution adopting a new name and lodge an application form with ASIC. 

There are special rules for changing a company name if the company is under external administration.

ASIC may direct a company to change its name

ASIC may direct a company in writing to change its name within 2 months if: 

  • The name should not have been registered 
  • The company has breached a condition relating to the availability of the name 
  • Consent to use the name has been withdrawn
  • The company has breached a condition on consent to use the name
  • The company is no longer allowed to use the name.

Effects of a name change 

ASIC will need to issue a new certificate of registration. However, changing a company name does NOT:

  • Create a new legal entity
  • Affect the company’s existing property, rights or obligations or
  • Render defective any legal proceedings by or against the company.


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About the Author

Vivian Michael is a lawyer and founder of Michael Law Group. Vivian's mission is to make quality business legal services accessible to Australian businesses that would otherwise DIY, rely on legacy contracts or go without.

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