Business names

To create the right image for your business and distinguish yourself from your competitors, you will need to ensure you register a business name. Remember that a descriptive or generic name identifying the service or product you’re offering will make it easy for customers to work out what your business is offering. Think about whether the name will give you scope to grow and change what your business offers over time.

Tip: The Commonwealth Government have made it easier to register a business online using the Business Registration Service. With this service, you can apply for key business registrations in one place. These registrations include Australian Business Number (ABN), business name, company, and tax registrations (such as applying for GST and PAYG withholding).

You can have multiple business names linked to your ABN. To register a business name, you will need to have an ABN or ABN application reference number. It is free to register your ABN. 

Is it necessary to register a business name?

A national business name is held with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC).

If you’re trading under your own name, there’s no requirement to register a separate business name. However, if you want to trade using a different name, then you will need to register this as a business name.

If you intend to operate under a company business structure your company name must be registered with ASIC.

Legal name

Business or trading name

Do I need to register?

John Smith John Smith’s Bricklaying Yes
John Smith John Smith No
John Smith and Mark Brown John and Mark's Electrical  Yes
John Smith and Mark Brown John Smith and Mark Brown No
Mary Smith Pty Ltd Smith Builders Yes
Mary Smith Pty Ltd Mary Smith Pty Ltd No

Deciding on a business name

Your business name will create a first impression of your business so it’s worth putting in the effort to get it right. You might want to consider:

  • What image do you want to communicate to clients?
  • Is your proposed name easy to remember, pronounce and spell?
  • Does the proposed name make a statement about the services and/or products you offer?
  • Is any other business already using the name?
  • Is the proposed name available to be registered as a domain name for operating or promoting your business online?
  • Is the name available on social media channels you plan to use now or in the future?

TIP: Registration of a business, company or domain name does not give you exclusive ownership. You will need to consider registering your business name as a trademark if you want to ensure exclusive use of your name throughout Australia.

Before registering a business name, you should undertake the following checks:

  • See if the name is identical or similar to a registered trademark by using IP Australia trade mark search.
  • If you would like to register a domain name in addition to your business name, make sure the domain name you want is available at Domain Administration – (auDA). Also check its availability for social media platforms you may plan to use.
  • Search for any licences you may need to undertake a particular type of business in WA.

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 will not:

  • stop another person from registering a similar name
  • prevent the name being registered as a trademark
  • prevent the name being used by someone that has already registered it as a trademark,
  • 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).

The obligation to register a business name is a legal obligation which is entirely separate to steps that business owners may take to protect any intellectual property rights in a name or brand, such as registering a trade mark. Learn more about the difference between trademark, business name and domain name.

Registering a business name

Once you have checked the business name is available you will need to register it using the Business Registration Service or ASIC Connect. You will need to have an ABN and there is a fee payable to register your name.

For full information on how to register your business name, including user guides and videos, visit the ASIC website.

More information