How to register a business name: A complete guide

Registering a business name is an important step for any small business.
Registering a business name is an important step for any small business.

Registering a business name is an essential step to launching your new business.

Fortunately, it’s a relatively simple process, regardless of whether you are starting something small or launching the next big thing.

Here is everything you need to know about registering a business name.


Like most things these days online is the easiest way to lodge an application to make your business name official.

The Australian Government’s Business Registration Service offers an online form that takes 10 minutes to complete and charges a small fee ($36 for one year and $85 for three years).
However, before logging on there are some things for new business owners to think about.

1. Choose a name

It might sound obvious, but you need to have picked out a name that suits your brand and also communicates what your business will do. Keep in mind a good name will help differentiate your company from competitors and should be both relevant and memorable.

2. Check availability

Standing out is essential, so ensuring the name is not being used by another company – especially a direct competitor – is crucial. In fact, if your proposed name is too similar to one that is already registered, you won’t be able to register it. You can check name availability by heading to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website. It’s also worth logging onto the Australian Trade Mark Search website to ensure another company does not have the exclusive rights to the name.

3. Get an ABN

In order to apply for a business name, you’ll need have registered (or applied to register) an Australian Business Number, which is the number that identifies your business on all future documentation.

Thankfully, registering an ABN is free, and can be done as part of the business name registration process on the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service website.

4. Identify your business structure

As part of your online application you will be asked what structure the new business will have. Usually this will be determined by the industry, the size and how the company is operated. It will also impact the tax and licences required. Here are the three most common business structures:

Sole trader – The simplest business structure, where the individual owner has full control and full liability.

Partnership – When two or more people are considered owners, income is distributed to employees and losses and gains are shared among the partners.

Company – A business that has a more complex structure where the business is a separate legal entity.

5. Apply online

Once you have done the necessary preparation, registering with the Business Registration Service is relatively simple. You’ll be required to complete the application form, pay a small fee ($36 to register for one year or $85 for three years) and await your confirmation email. The service registers your business nationally, so there is no need to register in other jurisdictions if you plan to operate in multiple states.

Business structure

Determining whether your business is a company, partnership or sole trader is a critical step.


Officially registering your business name is just the first step when starting out, and there are a range of other things to also consider that may determine the success of your venture.

1. Should you protect your name?

It’s important to note that when you register a business name, the process does not give you exclusive rights, protect your intellectual property (IP) or brand.

This is when trademarking becomes important, giving you the exclusive rights to the business name. However, the trademark process can be expensive, and this level of protection may not be suitable for everyone.

2. Do you need to register for other taxes?

Once your business starts trading you must register for pay as you go (PAYG) and withhold tax payments for employees. Furthermore, if your business reaches an annual turnover  of $75,000 you will be required to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST). For more information on how tax rates and how to pay your PAYG and GST, check out the Australian Tax Office website.

3. Do you have all the necessary permits and licences?

Nearly every type of business has some form of guidelines, licences or permits they must abide by, depending on the product and services offered. Examples include liquor licences, permissions to handle waste, vehicle registrations and planning permits.

If you are unsure of the licences and permits your business requires, visit the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) for a comprehensive guide specific to your state.