As of 28 May 2012, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC
) became responsible for registering, administering and renewing business names for all of Australia. This was made possible because of the Business Names Registration Act 2011
(Cth). Previously, each state and territory administered its own business names registration regime, meaning that eight separate registrations were necessary to register a business name nationally.
Through ASIC's online service, ASIC Connect, found by visiting ASIC's website and selecting the "business names" link, it is possible to:
- find out if a business name is available;
- register and renew a business name; and
- make changes to details relating to one or more business names.
The fee for one year's registration for each business name is $36, or $85 for three years.
Note: If you are operating under a particular business name as an unincorporated group and you choose to incorporate later down the track using the same name, you will need to provide evidence that you are the owner of that name before you will be allowed to use the name.
Have you had any interesting experiences or difficulties when choosing a name? If so, please do let us know in the comments below.
What is the difference between a trading name and a business name?
The chances are, if you've been looking at registering a name for your not-for-profit, you might have seen the terms 'trading name' and 'business name' being thrown around. We'll explain the difference here.
Before ASIC introduced the Australian Business Register (ABR) on 28 May 2012, the names that businesses were using are referred to and displayed on the ABR as the 'trading name'. These trading names are unregistered and have not been updated since the national business names register also commenced on 28 May 2012.
A 'business name' on the other hand is the name which you or your organisation has registered with ASIC, under which you operate a business.
If you would like to continue using a trading name, you need to register it as a business name (and thankfully, you have all the information above to help you do so). Luckily for you, if your trade falls within one of these exemptions, you don't need to register your name:
- you operate under your own first and last name (e.g. 'John Smith');
- you are in a partnership and you operate under the same name as all the partners' names; or
- you are already a registered Australian company and your operating name is the same as your company's name.
Fun fact – one-third of all trading names have not been registered as business names!
Other important things you should know are:
- trading names do not meet the requirements of a registered business name.
- if you would like to remove a trading name from a registered Australian Business Number, you need to contact the ABR.
What's this business with ASIC stopping trading names (pun entirely intended)?
Although trading names are currently still displayed on the ABR, from 1 November 2023 they will be removed and only registered business names will be displayed.
When ASIC took over the registration and administration of business names, a transition period was implemented which spans from 28 May 2012 to 31 October 2023.
This is intended to allow businesses who were affected by the removal of trading names enough time to let their customers, suppliers and other stakeholders know of any changes to the name they use to conduct their business (and register their name as a business name if they want to keep using it!).