FAQ - Business Names

Where do I find the ASIC Electronic Lodgement Protocol (ELP)?ASIC electronic lodgement protocol?


What is a business name?

A business name is the name, by which your business is recognised.

Once registered, the business name appears on the public register so people can identify the individuals, companies, registered bodies or other organisations who hold the business name.

Do I have to register a business name?

You must register a business name if you carry on business or trade within Australia unless you trade under:

  • your own individual name,
  • all of the individual names of the partners in a partnership; or
  • a company or registered body name.

If you are not sure whether you need to register a business name, or need help to choose the right structure for your business, you may wish to obtain advice from a professional advisor such as a lawyer or accountant.

The obligation to register a business name is a legal obligation which is entirely separate to any steps that business owners may take to protect any intellectual property rights in a name or brand, such as registering a trademark.

Who can register a business name?

  • an individual (for example, a sole trader)
  • an incorporated entity, including an Australian registered company (has an ACN), an Australian registered body (has an ARBN) or other incorporated entity (no ACN or ARBN)
  • an unincorporated entity, including a trust, superannuation fund or unincorporated body or association
  • a partnership or joint venture partnership, or
  • a joint venture.

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Does a business name give me the exclusive right to use that name?

Having a registered business name does not give you ownership of the name or the exclusive right to use the name. Registering a business name:

  • does not stop another person from registering a similar name
  • will not prevent the name being registered as a trademark
  • will not prevent the name being used by someone that has already registered it as a trademark, and
  • does not protect you from legal action if the name of your business infringes the intellectual property rights of another (for example, a name which is a registered trademark).

What should I do before applying for a business name?

Check to see if the name is identical or similar to a registered trademark, by using the new free IP Australia Trade Mark Check (TM Check)

If you would like to register a domain name in addition to your business name, check to make sure that the domain name you want is available.

Check any state or territory licences you may require to use a name or conduct a particular type of business in your state or territory. For more information go to Business Licence Information Service.

Do I need an ABN number before applying for a business name?

The individual or entity you are seeking to register a business name for must first have an ABN or an ABN application reference number before they can apply for a business name.

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How can I update the details of my business name?

You will need to go to www.asicconnect.asic.gov.au website and register yourself as a user and then link your business name to your login using the "Link a Business Name" function on the right hand side of the web page once you have logged in.

Once you have linked your business name to your login just follow the prompts to make any required changes.

Can ASIC send my ASIC key to another party, such as a registered agent?

You can ask ASIC to send your ASIC Key to your registered agent. You generally need to give your written authority for ASIC to provide your ASIC key to a third party (exceptions are made for large agents).

How can I check whether the business name I want to register is available?

You will be able to check the availability of a new business name by searching the business names register for existing names before progressing with an application for registration of a new business name.

Before registering a business name, you should conduct a trade mark search.

ASIC's new service will link to Australian trade mark and domain name searches. For more information you can search Australian trade marks at IP Australia Trade Mark Check (TM Check) and domain names at Domain Name Administrator (auDA).

How will ASIC determine if a business name can be registered?

ASIC has developed a new online name availability check to determine whether a business name is available for registration. We will apply automated tests and will respond immediately online as to whether a name is available, not available or requires further manual review by an ASIC staff member.

See more information about how we assess the availability of a business name.

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What happens if my business name is rejected?

When using our online system, you will immediately receive a screen message advising that the name cannot be registered.

The system will provide the reason why the name was rejected. You may then choose another name and proceed with your application or you may appeal the decision.

Can I appeal the decision if my proposed name is rejected?

Yes, you can seek a review of an ASIC decision by lodging your request within 28 days of being notified of the decision. You should submit a copy of your application. If you are still not satisfied with our decision, you may apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for further review.

Will ASIC issue a business name certificate and do I need to display it?

ASIC will issue a record of registration following business name registration and each renewal. You do not need to display the record of registration by law, although you may wish to. You are still required to display the business name.

How does the new system deal with franchise names?

As is the case now, unless the franchised business is trading under its own entity name e.g. company name, they will need to register the franchise name. This would normally include some sort of region or location in the title e.g. Summer Salad Richmond.

Registration of a franchise name will not require the franchisee to provide the written permission from the franchisor to ASIC. However a business that applies to register a franchised name should ensure it has the authority to trade under that name through its franchise agreement. Messaging on the business name registration application system will advise applicants of this responsibility.

It remains the responsibility of the business to ensure that they do not pass off as another business or infringe on other businesses trademarks.

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