The Ins and Outs of Australian Business Names
One of the most exciting things about starting any new business is deciding on a trading name. But, the rules around your trading name can get very confusing. Once you have an ABN, do you also need to register your trading name? What about if you are a sole trader? Where do you go to register the name?
Overview of the Australian Business Register
Traditionally the Australian Business Register (ABR) was the only place you needed to go to register for an ABN, ACN or Trading Name. However, in 2012 the Australian Business Names Register was introduced. Managed by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), the Business Name Register substantially eased some of the services of the ABR.
The introduction of the Business Names Register meant that ABR would no longer collect and record:
- business names registered for an entity under the old state or territory laws
- unregistered names used by entities for business purposes.
Like with any Government change, there is a period of transition. In this case, during a transitional period, these historical names, referred to as the entity’s trading names, have continued to be displayed in the trading name field of ABN Lookup.
The transition period was meant to end on 31 October 2018. However, this has now been extended to 31 October 2023.
So, what does all of this mean for you and your business?
Well, it means the Registrar will not publicly display the trading names that were recorded in the ABR prior to the introduction of the new national business names register. That is, if you are an affected business, you now have more time to inform your customers, suppliers and other stakeholders of any changes to the trading name that they use to conduct your business.
This extended transitional period will also provide additional time for businesses to take steps to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
Do you need to register your business name?
The short answer: Yes, except ….
If you are a sole trader and trade under your own name, then you do not need to register your trading name.
However, if you trade under anything else, then yes you do need to register your business name.
The cost of registration is $37 for one year or $87 for three years.
How do you register your business name?
Registering your business name is easy. Simply head to the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service.
There are a few things to consider and do before you register your business name:
Firstly, you need to have an ABN, which you can also obtain at the Business Registration Service.
Secondly, you need to choose a name and ensure it’s availability.
Once you have settled on a name, follow the prompts on the Business Registration Service to get your name registered. Once completed, you will receive an email confirmation of the registration.
Please note, once you have registered your business name, your ABN and trading name must be displayed on all invoices and purchase orders. You will also be required to prominently display your name wherever you’re open to the public.
Important things to note about business names
It is essential to understand that having a registered business name does not automatically protect you against third party claims for trademark infringement. It also does not protect you against someone using a similar name as you, in your geographical location.
However, there are steps you can take to protect your business name. Firstly, you will need to check whether another corporation trademarks your name. This can be done on the Australian Trade Mark Search.
For more clarity on business names or to get the process started, please contact Synergy Accountants and Estate Planners.