A business name is a name or title under which a person or entity conducts a business. In most cases, you’ll need to operate under a business name. Either register your business name or get the existing business name transferred to you.
Get a new business name
It’s a straightforward process to register a business name:
- Check whether the business name you want is available by using ASIC Connect.
- If it’s available, go and register it via ASIC.
Choosing a business name
Things to check when deciding on a name:
- Business name availability (via ASIC Connect)
- Existing trade marks (via IP Australia)
- Domain name availability (WHOIS via Ausregistry)
- Social media handles available
Even if you’re not planning to use the domain name or particular social media, it’s worth getting them anyway so no-one else can.
Taking an existing business name
Transferring a business name is somewhat involved:
- Seller (or old business name holder) must get an ASIC key and link that to the business name
- Seller completes the ‘Cancel/Transfer business name’
- Seller provides the ‘consent to transfer number’ to the buyer. It’s “1-” followed by ten digits.
- Buyer uses the ‘consent to transfer number’ to register the business name.
Sellers: make sure you have your ASIC key linked to the business name before the business is put up for sale. We’ve seen settlement held up because the ASIC key went missing.
Put it on the wall
Once you have a business name, remember to display it somewhere in the premises where the public can see it. It’s pretty common to see businesses framing their business name certificate.
Things which are not business names
This is a common source of myths and misunderstandings. Business names are not:
- Company names
- Trade marks
- Domain names
This is important because registering a business name:
- does not stop another person from registering a similar name
- will not prevent the name being registered as a trademark
- will not prevent the name being used by someone that has already registered it as a trademark
- does not protect you if your business name infringes someone else’s intellectual property rights (e.g. a registered trademark)