How to Register a Business Name in NSW

Business Structure
  • If you need your company name to be different than your legal name, you must register the business name as the company's trading name.
  • You can register at the Australian Government Business Registration Service, whether you are in NSW, VIC, QLD or any other states.

    Editor's update 26/06/20:
    Business name cost in Australia: The cost to register a business name in Australia is $36 for 1 year or $85 for 3 years (as of June 2020). The exact same fees apply for business name renewal.

    Can I use my name as a business name? In Australia, it's illegal to operate a business under an unregistered business name unless you trade under your personal name, e.g. Joe Bloggs. If you don't want to trade under your personal name, you must register a business name. You would also need to apply for a business name if you want to add a suffix to the end of your personal trading name, e.g. '& Co'.
     

register business name

NSW business name registration

The NSW Department of Fair Trading used to manage business name registration for NSW businesses but since May 2012, the national business name registration services from Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has been administering and managing business names across Australia.

New businesses need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN) before they can register a national business name. More information on how to set up ABN and how to register a business name in NSW can be found here.

What is a business name?

A business name is the trading name under which your business operates.

What’s the difference between a trading name and a business name?

There is no difference. A trading name is an old term that refers to the same thing. The correct term to use is business name, which is the legal title that your business operates under.

Do I need to register a business name in NSW?

Here are some examples of when you would need to register business name:

  • Bruce Adams owns a Bakery as a sole trader. His legal name is Bruce Adams and he wants his business to be known as Bruce’s Pies.
  • Don Jones and Wayne Rust run an accountancy business together, operating as a partnership. Their partnership's legal name is Don Jones and Wayne Rust and they want their business to be known as Don and Wayne Accounting.
  • A proprietary limited company is registered with ASIC under its legal name Ben Matthews Pty Ltd. The company wants to operate under the name Top-End Web Services, so it must be registered as a business name.

Examples of when you don't need to register a business name in NSW

  • Robert Townsend owns a marketing business and operates as a sole trader. His legal name is Robert Townsend. Because he is happy to operate his business as a sole trader under his legal name, he doesn't have to register a business name.
  • John Wright and Jeff Neve have a building business together - operating as a partnership. They are thinking about registering a business name in NSW. However, their partnership's legal name is John Wright and Jeff Neve. They are happy to operate under their legal name, using all of the partners' names, so they don't need to register a business name.
  • A proprietary limited company is registered with ASIC using its legal name Benjamin Stewart Pty Ltd. As the company will operate under the legal name, it doesn't have to register a business name. In fact, registering the company with ASIC automatically registers the legal name as a business name.

Things to consider when registering a business name

Here is a checklist of things you need to consider before you go on the business name register:

  • When should a business name be registered? 
    Generally, registering a business name in NSW is something that you will need to do if you carry on a business or trade within Australia and you are not trading under your own name. This is a legal obligation but it does not provide exclusive ownership of the business name. The only way to gain exclusivity over a particular business name is to register it as a trademark with IP Australia.
     
  • How to protect your business name
    Having a business name registration does not mean you will have exclusive rights to use that name. Instead, you will need to consider applying for a Trademark registration through IP Australia and register for the domain name through Domain Registrars such as Crazy Domain or GoDaddy.

How to register a business name in NSW

Follow these three simple steps to register a business name in NSW:

  1. Apply for an ABN
  2. Register a Business Name via ASIC's website.
  3. Register for GST (if turnover is more than $75,000 per year)

How much does it cost to register or renew a business name?

The cost is $36 for a one-year registration or $85 for a three-year registration (as of June 2020).

There are no fees for updating your business name details.

Useful resources

Have you registered your company name yet? Were there any hurdles on your way?


Phil Joel

Director at SavvySME


Comments (1)
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Aishah Mustapha

Aishah Mustapha, Content Marketer at

Now that ASIC is managing business names for all of Australia, the process and cost to register a business name in NSW is the same as elsewhere. Everything can be done online. As a word of caution, stay away from business names that are related or sound like big brand names because there have been cases where corporations sue small businesses over names.