If you want to conduct business under a name other than your personal name, you need to register a business name.
Follow these 5 steps to choose and register a business name:
1. Choose your business name
Decide on a name that's right for your business. Your business name is a major element of your identity, image and brand. It should be:
- easy to pronounce and spell
- original and not similar to existing business names, company names or trade marks
- appropriate, professional and not offensive
- descriptive and functional (for example, Marketing Results) or new and quirky (for example, Google)
Using your personal name
You can use your personal name for your business (for example, Jane Smith).
If you use your personal name as your business name, you don't need to register it. But if you want to call your business 'Jane Smith & Co', you need to register the name, as '& Co' is not part of your personal name.
Rules and restrictions for naming your business
There are certain words that you can't use in your business name.
You can find a list of restricted words, characters or expressions for business names on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website.
2. Check if your business name is available
Do a Check Name Availability search on the ASIC website.
Also check Australian Trade Mark Search to make sure your business name isn't already a registered trade mark. This way you won't be infringing on someone else's legal right to the name.
3. Apply for your business name
You need an ABN to register a business name. If you haven't already got one, you can register for an ABN and your business name at the same time.
Who can use the Business Registration Service?
The BRS is currently available for new businesses starting as a sole trader, joint venture, company, trust, partnership or superannuation fund.
If you're one of these business types, you can apply for these registrations through the BRS:
- Australian Business Number (ABN)
- business name
- goods and services tax (GST)
- Australian company
- pay as you go (PAYG) withholding
- fringe benefits tax (FBT)
- luxury car tax (LCT)
- fuel tax credits (FTC)
- wine equalisation tax (WET)
- Administrator AUSkey
If you're an existing business with an ABN, you can also apply for your tax registrations through the BRS.
4. Trademark your name
Make sure you protect your business name or idea, including trademarking your name and logo. Just registering your business name doesn't give you full automatic rights over the name.