Register Business Name in NSW: the Why and How

Regulatory and Compliance
  • Your business name is basically your company's first and most important business card to make a good impression in the industry.
  • In order for your company name to be different than your own legal name, you have to register business name as the company's trading name.
  • If you want to find out how to exactly register business name in NSW, you're in the right place.

register business name

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 obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) before they can register a national business name. More information on how to setup ABN, how to register business name in NSW and register their business can be found here.

What’s the difference between Trading Name and Business Name?

There is no difference. Trading Name is an old term that refers to the same thing. The correct term to use is Business Name. Business Name is the legal title that your business operates under.

Some examples of when you 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.

Some examples of when you do not need to register 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 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 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 business name. In fact, registering the company with ASIC automatically registers the legal name as a business name.

Things to consider

Here is a checklist for you to consider before you register business name:

  • 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.

Useful Resources

Steps to register business name

  • Apply for an ABN
  • Register a Business Name
  • Register for GST (if turnover is more than $75,000 per year)

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost is $33 for a one-year registration or $76 for a three-year registration (as of May 2014).

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

Phil Joel

Director at SavvySME


Anonymous asks

Comments (1)

Aishah Mustapha

Aishah Mustapha, Community Manager 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.