So, you are thinking about starting your own business and you’ve come up with a great name for it. But before you hang your new business name above your door, there’s some important things you need to know about registering a business name in Australia.
What’s the difference between an ABN, ACN and a business name?
Many small business owners in the process of setting up a new business get confused about the difference between a business name, ABN and ACN:
- A business name is the trading name you are operating your business under – think of it as the name you use on your front door and website;
- An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit number issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Getting an ABN is a must-have if you are setting up a business in Australia, even if you are operating as a sole trader and trading under your own name; and
- An Australian Company Number (ACN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), if you set your business up as a registered company. An ACN is not needed if you are operating your small business as a sole trader.
Do you need to register a business name?
The first step in registering your new business name is to work out if you do need to register it. If you are trading as a sole trader under your own legal name (e.g. Jack Jones), you won’t need to register a business name. But you will need to register your business name with ASIC if you plan to trade under a name that is:
- Different to your name
- Includes other words as well as your name (e.g. Jack Jones Landscaping) or
- Is different to your registered company name (assuming your business structure is that of a registered company with an ACN).
Check if your business name is available
A unique business name helps to set you apart from your competitors, so it’s important to conduct an Australian business name search to check if your intended business name is available. The ASIC business name search tool will help you identify any business with similar names. Also check to make sure that a website domain name (URL) is available for your business name through a domain name registrar.
Bear in mind that having a registered business, company or website domain name does not give you exclusive ownership of a business name. You may need to register a trademark with IP Australia if you want exclusive use of your name.
Applying to register your business name with ASIC
Once you have identified your business structure (sole trader or registered company), applied for your ABN and checked that your business name is available, you will be ready to register your business name with ASIC. The ASIC Connect website will take you through the steps to register your business name online. Make sure you have the following information at hand:
- Your proposed business name
- Your ABN or ABN application number
- Full name and addresses of all business owners.
How much does business name registration cost?
Registering your business name with ASIC will cost:
- $37 for one year
- $87 for three years
Note that you will need to renew your business name registration after the initial registration period and update ASIC if any details (such as your address) change.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website includes information on how to conduct an Australian business name search and register your business name.
The Australian Government’s business.gov.au website offers valuable information for small business owners including details about how to register your business name.
The Australian Government Business Registration Service (BRS) combines several business and tax registrations in one place, making it even easier to start a business.
Contact us to find out more about how BOQ Business can support your small business