National Business Names Registration Service: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do I have to register a business name?
  2. How will I register for a business name under the new service?
  3. How will I register for a business name and Australian Business Number under the new service?  
  4. How much will it cost to register or renew a business name under the new service?
  5. Before I register a new name, will I be able to check if the name is available?
  6. What is the difference between a business name, trade mark and domain name?
  7. What happens to my existing business name/s registrations?
  8. Who will notify me when my registration is due for renewal under the new service?
  9. How will I make changes to my business name registration?
  10. What payment options are available when registering in the new service?
  11. Who can complete the online ABN and business name registration on behalf of my business?
  12. What will happen if I have identical business names registered in multiple states/territories?
  13. What happens if the same business name has previously been registered by different businesses in different states/territories?
  14. What happens if I have an existing business name registered but no ABN, will I still be able to keep renewing my business name?
  15. How does the new national service deal with franchise names?
  16. What are the advantages of the new service for consumers?

1. Why do I have to register a business name?

You need to register a business name if you carry on a business or trade within Australia and are not trading under your own entity name. This is so consumers can easily identify the person(s) or company behind a business (trading) name through a public register. An entity name may include your or your partner’s, first name and surname, or your company name.

2. How will I register for a business name under the new service?

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will manage and administer business names across Australia. You will be able to apply to register or renew a business name online by visiting www.asic.gov.au/business-names and in most cases receive confirmation of your registration straight away.  

3. How will I register for a business name and Australian Business Number under the new service?  

To help new businesses, there will be a linked process for registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a national business name, the two most common registrations when starting a business, available abr.gov.au

With the introduction of the linked ABN and National Business Names Registration Service, it will be compulsory for new businesses to have their ABN, or be in the process of applying for one and not have been refused, in order to apply to register for a national business name. Registering for an ABN will remain free.

Until the new service is in place, you will need to follow the current process for registering a business name in each state and territory you wish to trade in . For more information on how to register a business name in your state or territory, visit www.business.gov.au   

4. How much will it cost to register or renew a business name under the new service?

For details on business name registration fees and payment methods please visit the ASIC website.

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5. Before I register a new name, will I be able to check if the name is available?

Yes. The new service will allow you to search existing names before progressing with an application for registration of a new business name.   Before registering a business name, you should also check that your proposed name doesn’t already have a trade mark registered against it. The new service will link to Australian trade mark and domain name searches to make it easier for businesses. Visit www.ipaustralia.gov.au for information on trade marks or www.auda.org.au for information on domain names.  

6. What is the difference between a business name, trade mark and domain name?

The differences between trade marks, business names, company names and domain names sometimes cause confusion. Registration of a business name, company name or domain name does not in itself give any proprietary rights (property rights) - only a trade mark can give that kind of protection. The same word(s) may be registered by different people as business names and trade marks. However, the registered trade mark owner can sue the business owner for infringing the trade mark if the business name owner uses it on goods or services similar to those covered by the trade mark registration. Visit www.ipaustralia.gov.au for information on trade marks.

A domain name gives online businesses a unique electronic address. You can arrange to buy a domain name yourself or through an internet service provider (ISP).  

To buy a .com.au or .net.au domain name, you must be a commercial entity and possess either an ACN or ABN. For more information on domain name registration, visit www.auda.org.au   

7. What happens to my existing business name/s registrations?

Existing businesses do not need to do anything to transfer their business name to ASIC when the new National Business Name Registration Service is launched. Existing state and territory business name registration will automatically be transferred into the new National Business Names Register.

8. Who will notify me when my registration is due for renewal under the new service?

Once the new service has commenced, ASIC will notify you when your business name is due for renewal. Until then, your state or territory will continue to notify you when your registration is due. You must pay your state or territory registration renewal to ensure your business name is transferred to the new service.

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9. How will I make changes to my business name registration?

Once the service has commenced, you will need to visit www.asic.gov.au/business-names to cancel or make changes to your business name details. Until then, you will need to contact each state and territory your business name is registered. 

10. What payment options are available when registering in the new service?

You will be able to make secure online electronic payments with MasterCard or Visa and will also have the option of a range of other payment options accepted by ASIC, such as BPay and Australia Post BillPay.

11.  Who can complete the online ABN and business name registration on behalf of my business?

A person legally responsible for your business, or your nominated business advisor (e.g. accountant or solicitor), may complete the online application. ASIC registered agents can also lodge information for a client after the client has nominated them to act on their behalf.    

12.  What will happen if I have identical business names registered in multiple states/territories?

If your business name was previously registered in more than one state or territory, those registered names will automatically transfer to the National Business Names Register. From the start date of the new service, you will only be required to maintain one consolidated business name registration on the national register, and you will be able to choose to pay the renewal fee at the time that your latest renewal is due.

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13.  What happens if the same business name has previously been registered by different businesses in different states/territories?

All current business name registrations will be transferred to the National Business Names Register. This will include some identical business names that have been registered by different owners in different states/territories. These identical business names will be differentiated by information on the National Business Names Register. There will be no need to change your business name, or the way it is represented on signage or stationery.

14.  What happens if I have an existing business name registered but no ABN, will I still be able to keep renewing my business name?  

Yes, you will still be able to renew your existing business name without an ABN. However, you will require an ABN to register for an AUSkey, the single key to access government online services.

15.  How does the new national service deal with franchise names?

As is the case now, unless the franchised business is trading under its own separate company name, it will still need to register its use of the franchise name. This normally includes reference to a region or location in the title to identify the particular branch e.g. Summer Salad Richmond. Registration of a franchise name will not require the franchisee to provide written permission from the franchisor but the business should ensure that its franchise agreement gives it the authority to trade under that name.      

16.  What are the advantages of the new service for consumers?

Consumers will be able to search online free of charge for business contact details, address and ownership of any business name currently registered in Australia. Home-based businesses will have their suburb only shown on the free online register. This will provide greater transparency for consumers and allows them to easily direct enquiries or complaints to the right address but provides some privacy for home-based businesses. Consumers will be able to purchase extracts with more information on the business from ASIC for a fee.

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