September 28, 2019

register a business

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

When registering a business name

Updated: 12 October 2022

By registering a business name, you secure a unique name to represent your business. Choose a name early on while planning your business. It gives your business its own identity and you can build a brand around the name.

When to register your business name

When registering a business name check it is available by searching ASIC to see if it has already been registered. Register it as soon as you can after you start using it.

What is a legal entity name?

A legal entity name is the name you use on all legal documents such as leases, registrations and contracts.

Your legal entity name can be different than your business name.

For example, if you set up a company called Example Pty Ltd but use the business name Bob’s Car Repairs for ding business, you need to register the business name Bob’s Car Repairs. Bob’s Car Repairs is your legal entity name.

Unregistered trading names?

A trading name is an unregistered name that businesses could use before the introduction of the National Business Names Register on 28 May 2012.

Importantly, a trading name is not a registered business name.

If you want to use your trading name after October 2023, you have to register it as a business name.

Currently ABN Lookup and the Australian Business Registry display old trading names but has not been updated since the National Business Name Register began. But this will cease in November 2023.

When you do not need to register a business name

You do not need to register a business name if you are a sole trader or a partnership trading under your own names. For example:

  • April Anderson operates as a sole trader. She uses her own name to operate a skin care business. April does not need to register the business name because she is trading under her own name.
  • Two partners, Chris Christy and James June, operate a partnership using their full names. They do not need to register their business names either as they are operating the business under their own names.

National registration

The great news is that registering your business name means it is recognised in all states of Australia so you do not need to register your business name in each state.

Protecting your business name

If you want to protect your business name, the best way to do that is to trademark it. Simply registering your business name does not protect you from other businesses using a similar trading name t sell similar goods and services as you.

A trademark legally gives you exclusive use of the business name for the goods or services you sell or those that are similar.

I wish you every success in your ventures! And, as usual, contact me for advice if you need help.

About the author 

Vivian Michael

As founder and lawyer at Michael Law Group, Vivian advises Australia's top entrepreneurs on business and employment matters. Clients benefit from Vivian's commercially focussed and pragmatic legal advice, business experience, and commitment to deliver the best quality business legal services to her clients.

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