People often ask whether or not they need to register a business name to conduct their business. The simple rule of thumb is if the name in which you operate your business (i.e. your Business Name) is identical to the name registered with the Australian Business Register – than most likely no.
The Australian Government is doing their best to ensure transparency with their Trade Practices legislation, and if, using the ABN lookup, your business name is the same as what the ABN is registered against, then that means the general public can easily identify the business is who they say they are.
But what if, your business name (i.e. what passers by know you as) is not the same as what appears on the ABN lookup?
To clarify, you will not need to register a separate Business Name if:
1. You are an individual trading as your full name (first name and last name) only
For example, Jimmy Bloggs is a Sole Trader and runs a business called “Jimmy Bloggs Consulting”. His ABN is registered against his name Jimmy Bloggs. He would need to register a Business Name called “Jimmy Bloggs Consulting”).
2. You run a business in partnership with another person and the operating name of the Business is all the partners names (first name and last name)
For example, Jimmy Bloggs has partnered with his wife Janine Bloggs to expand his consulting business. They’ve decided to operate this venture as “Bloggs Consulting”. Again, the first name and last name is not the only name that the Business is operated in, so a Business Name would need to be registered for “Bloggs Consulting”
3. A Registered Company who operates their Business with the same name as the Company Name
For Example, Jimmy and Janine Bloggs have recently formed their consulting business as a Proprietary Company called “Bloggs Consulting Pty Limited”. They are happy to add the Pty Limited to their business operations, and have amended their website, front door and all stationery to trade as “Bloggs Consulting Pty Limited”. They would not need to register a business name. However, if they were not happy to make these changes and still wanted to trade as “Bloggs Consulting” they would have to transfer their Business Name from the Partnership and to the Company.
Previously, registering a Business Name was a State or Territory based jurisdiction, causing business operating in several states much cost and expense keeping on top of multiple registrations. Recent legislation has been enacted in order to clarify and streamline the Business Names into a National Register. You can only apply for a Business Name if you have an Australian Business Number (ABN) and are operating a business.
Common questions I’m hearing:
What is the relevant legislation?
The Business Names Registration Act 2011 (Commonwealth).
When did this legislation come into effect?
28th May 2012
Who Governs this Registration?
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) is charged with maintaining the National Business Name Register which is 100% online with their secure website ASIC Connect
Does a Business Name protect others from trading with a similar name?
Simply, no. However, this has not changed from previous State and Territory based legislation. It is a legal obligation to register a business Name which is entirely separate to any steps that business owners may take in order to protect any intellectual property rights in a brand or name, such as registering their trademark.
What are the penalties for not registering?
Current as of time of writing, penalties for not registering a Business Name and
Where can I register a Business Name?
Simply visit ASIC Connect