Business Name Registration in Australia Explained

Business Name Registration in Australia Explained
  • As a Business Name registration service provider, we are flooded with questions almost on a daily basis.
  • It is important to note that just because a business name is available for registration through ASIC, this does not mean that it is not trademarked.
  • Read on to get vital information on how to register a business name in Australia.

    Editor's update 01/07/20:
    2020 business name registration fees:
    The ASIC fees to register a business as of July 2020 are $37 for one year and $87 for three years. The fees for renewing a business are identical to the registration fees.

    How do I look up who owns a business in Australia? To look up or find a registered business or company in Australia, use the 'Organisations and Business Names' search on ASIC's website. You can search by using the business name or by the Australian Business Number (ABN).

    How do I check if a business or company name already exists? You can find out if a business or company already exists and is trademarked by searching the 'check business name availability' search on ASIC's website. If you start an application to register a business name on ASIC Connect, you will be notified immediately during the process if a business name is unavailable. 

Although ASIC has been the governing body of business names for almost nine months now, there still seems to be a lack of process clarity with regards to how to register a business name.

As a Business Name registration service provider we are flooded with questions almost on a daily basis.  Complicated procedures, temperamental online forms which sometimes work and sometimes don't, error messages and rejection letters are some of the most frequent frustrations new business owners seem to be facing.  Way too often if you ask me.

The last thing any new (and even existing) business owner needs is to be inconvenienced because a system lacks both functionality and transparency.

In defence or even maybe defiance (depending on how you look at it) of ASIC, I must declare that they are continuously changing and updating both systems procedures and policy.  In a way it's good, as it improves the system, however, consequently these changes lead to even more frustration as they happen often and without notice. 

I hope that the following will help clarify the process of registration for you: 

The Process of Registering a Business Name Explained

The process for how to register a business name in NSW versus how to register a business name in QLD are the same in most regards. Below are listed specific steps that you need to complete in order to do this.

  • A business name will be denied registration if a duplicate or similar business or company name already exists on the register. You should always first search business name availability before beginning your application. 
     
  • There is a strict list of names which will be denied registration.  You can find a list of undesirable and restricted words and phrases here.
     
  • It is important to note that just because a business name is available for registration through ASIC, this does not mean that it is not trademarked. It is the proprietor's responsibility to check that the name does not infringe on anyone's intellectual property. 
     
  • In order to register a business name, the proprietary entity (sole trader, partnership, company or trust) must have an Australian Business Number. An A.B.N can be applied for free of charge on the ABR.gov.au website. The ATO may take up to 28 days to process your application. An A.B.N. reference number may be used to submit an application for the purpose of securing a name, however, until the A.B.N. is officially allocated the application will 'sit' in the system. After the A.B.N. is allocated, the ATO will notify ASIC and the business name application will automatically be processed and the Business Name Register will reflect the new business name.  
     
  • A business name may be registered for either 1 or 3 years. A renewal notice will be sent from ASIC to the registered postal address 28 days prior to the renewal date. A business name can only be renewed after the notice has been issued. The ASIC Key will be necessary in the renewal process.  
  • With regards to how much does it cost to register a business name, the costs are $34 for 1 year or $78 for 3 years (prices updated as of September 2014, per the www.asbc.gov.au website).
     
  • Both a physical business address as well as a registered address for the service of documents must be provided on the application. PO Box addresses will not be accepted.  The registered address is made available to the public on the ASIC business name register.  It is suggested that individuals working from home, not willing to disclose their home address, should use their accountant's office address.  
     
  • The average turnaround time for ASIC to list a business name on the register is anywhere from 2-5 business days. In peak periods this may take longer.
     
  • Each business name is allocated an ASIC key- which is a unique 9 digit code which will be necessary in the event that any changes, such as address updates, renewals or cancellations need to be made. This key should be kept safely guarded. Anyone with access to it will be able to make changes to the business name account.
     
  • Business Name Certificates are no longer issued. Instead, a letter of registration and a confirmation of registration are sent to the registered address.
     
  • The system on the ASIC website through which all business name registrations and changes are made is called ASIC Connect. Once you set up an account you will then need to follow the prompts.
     
  • If you do not feel confident in applying and managing your business name account, you can enlist the help of an ASIC agent (corporate service provider).  

You may find this video helpful in understanding business name registration in Australia 

I hope this helps to clarify the steps you need to take. ASIC has endeavoured to make this process more straightforward and painless in recent years, with the cost to register a business name having also been reduced during that same period.  

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask by commenting below. 


Gosia Slotala

Marketing Manager at

Hi! I'm a Marketing Manager for Shelcom - a Corporate Service Provider in business for over 26 years. My passion in helping entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, partnerships, etc., set up their business legally and without hassle. I love helping people understand the procedures and legalities of establishing enterprise in Australia. On a daily basis I help individuals with anything from ABN registration and business registration, to more complex issues such as corporate structures, trusts and SMSF's.


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