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Sort Out Your Business Name Registration Before Trading Names Disappear

Trading names were once quite common in Australia, but they were replaced by business names in 2012. When the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) introduced business names they also created the Australian Business Register (ABR).

That’s when business name registration became an essential part of running a business in Australia.

All registered business names are included on the ABR, along with any trading names that people had. But when these trading names were added to the ABR they weren’t converted to registered business names. Now things are changing.

From 31 October 2018, trading names will no longer be used. If you’d like to continue using your trading name you’ll need to complete a business name registration.

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

There are several different types of names that you can use for your business and each has a different purpose. This can make it confusing to know which ones you need and which you don’t!

Business name

A business name is a name your business is known as or that it trades under. It’s how your customers find you and know who you are. Your business name is registered with ASIC, who gives you a record of registration.

Every business name is different.

While some businesses choose to display this record of registration in their place of business, there’s no legal requirement to do this – but you do need to display your business name somewhere.

Trading name

A trading name may also be the name that your business trades under or is known by, but it isn’t registered with ASIC. The ATO used to collect trading names but they stopped doing this on 28 May 2012. These names were added to the ABR, but moving forward they won’t be collected or updated on the ABR.

Now, this is the important bit – if you have a trading name you’ll need to complete a business name registration by 31 October 2018 to be able to keep using it. That day will fly around before we know it, so it’s a good thing to get this on your radar now.

Company name

A company name is, quite simply, what your company is called. This is registered with ASIC and may include Pty Ltd at the end of it. Every company name is different but it’s not the same thing as your business name, so you may need to register that as well.

Legal name

A legal name is the name that your business uses on all of its legal documents like contracts, leases and other official documents. Depending on your business structure this may be your company name, the name of your partnership, your incorporated association’s name or, if you’re a sole trader, your personal name. Sometimes your legal name may be the same as your business name.

How do I register a business name?

Before you begin your business name registration, you need to check that the name you want to register is available. You can do this by searching the business names register here or by getting in touch with CCASA.

If someone else has already registered the business name you want (always so disappointing), you’ll need to come up with another name that is available (hopefully a better one!).

If you don’t have an ABN you’ll need to apply for one. You can have an ABN if you’re carrying on a business. Your business name will be attached to your ABN. If your business has several departments, products or services you can register more than one business name under the same ABN.

Once you have an ABN and have found a name that you like and that’s available, you’re ready to start the process of registering your business name.

CCASA can assist you to quickly and easily register your business name.

Otherwise, you’ll need to sign up to use ASIC Connect. ASIC Connect is an online portal to register and manage your business details with ASIC. The process for signing up to ASIC Connect can be a bit confusing but you can find instructions on how to do it here.

Once you’ve set up your ASIC Connect account you can apply for your business name. While it may take about 15 minutes to complete the form, you should be told that your name is registered quite quickly.

What if I have trading names in several different states?

The ABR is a national register of business names. If you had the same trading name in more than one state in Australia before 28 May 2012, you may find that ASIC has put each of these on the ABR.

As the ABR covers the whole country you only need to keep one of these moving forward. This means you can cancel all but one of these registrations. By doing this you will have less paperwork to do. It will also make sure that no one gets confused if they see your business name registered several times.

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, CCASA can help.

I’ve registered a trademark, so do I need to register a business name?

Your trademarks protect your intellectual property, but a trademark is not a business name. If your trademark is also how other people recognise your business, you might also want to register a business name to protect your trademark.

You can find out more about what a trademark is from IP Australia or read all about it on our blog.

If you’d like to register your trading name as a business name, get in touch with CCASA before 31 October 2018.

This information is general in nature and we recommend that you seek legal and/or accounting advice to make the best decisions for your business.


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