Selecting the appropriate company name is among the most challenging choices you’ll face when preparing to launch a business in Australia. Without knowing the restrictions set by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), you run the risk of having your ideal company name rejected.
In this guide, we will go over ASIC’s rules for approving company names, such as the need for legal standing, how to stay away from already-used trademarks and domain names and how to avoid using banned phrases or objectionable language.
We will also break down the differences between a company name and a business name, how to register a company name with ASIC after getting an ABN and how important it is to register your name as a trademark with IP Australia in order to have legal protection. Moreover, we will advise you on how to update your company name, verify its availability and the next steps to take after registering, such as filing taxes, setting up a corporate bank account, and acquiring any required licenses or permissions.
You can confidently select and register a company name that supports your business objectives and distinguishes you from rivals by paying attention to following our expert advice.
Choosing a Company Name
Before choosing a company name, you need to be aware of the following guidelines set by ASIC for approving proposed names. Under ASIC’s national register, you will only be able to register a company name if it:
- Shows the company’s legal status (i.e., Pty (Proprietary), Ltd (Limited), and NL (No Liability))
- Is not identical or nearly identical to an existing name
- Is not already trademarked as a name
- Is not already registered as a domain name
- Is not using restricted terms without government approval (i.e., trust, university, chartered, credit society, etc.)
- Is not offensive (you should consider the possibility of the name being misunderstood)
- Is not suggesting illegal activity/ies
- Is not using unknown words (made-up words, words with unusual spelling, or words that are compounded)
ASIC reserves the right to reject a proposed name if it fails to follow any of the guidelines set above. So it’s best to keep these in mind before making a final choice to avoid undergoing the process over again.
To check if the name is available, you can search the following government directories:
If a company name is available on ASIC Registers but is listed as a registered trademark by another company in IP Australia, by all means, you should not reserve the name. Though ASIC may allow you to register the name, you will not be able to trademark it. The company owning the registered trademark over the name can demand you to stop using it if they find out.
Does a Company Name Differ from a Business Name?
Yes, a company name is different from a business name. Though it is inevitable to assume they mean the same, they are not synonymous. A company name is only ascribed to a legal entity registered with ASIC under the Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001. A business name, on the other hand, is akin to a trading name that an individual can use to undertake business activities (i.e., sole traders using their first name and last name as their business name).
In Australia, company names are usually followed by Pty Ltd or Limited to indicate their legal status and separate legal entity.
Registering a Company Name
Before you can register a company name in Australia, you must obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) from the Australian Business Register (ABR). ASIC will ask for your ABN or ABN application reference number to proceed with the application.
After securing an ABN or ABN application reference number, you can register your company name online with ASIC Connect. The website provides the step-by-step process of what you need to do to register your company name successfully.
You will be given an ASIC key after successful registration. The ASIC key is a unique number that links your company name to your ASIC Connect account. After your company name is linked, you can complete transactions such as updating your details or changing your company name.
If you are unfamiliar with the registration process, you can reach out to our team for professional assistance.
Related Read: Choosing the Perfect Business Location in Australia
How to trademark your company name in Australia
Registering your company name with ASIC does not automatically grant you exclusive access to use the name in Australia. If you want to exclusively use the name with the prescribed legal rights attached, you must have it trademarked with IP Australia. This will give you the legal security that no company can deliberately imitate your business to deceive your customers or assume your company’s identity to steal your customers and/or damage your reputation.
Can I Change or Update My Company Name?
If you want to change or update your company name, you can do so by logging in to ASIC Connect and lodging a form online using your ASIC key. If you availed the services of an agent or corporate solutions provider, you can coordinate with them to change the name on your behalf.
Next Steps After Company Name Registration in Australia
After registering your company name with ASIC and as a trademark with IP Australia, you can register it as a domain name for your company website with a ‘.com.au’ or ‘.net.au’ subdomain. Thereafter, you can proceed with the following for your company registration requirements:
Register Your Company Name in Australia with Confidence
As one of the first steps in the process of company formation in Australia, registering a company name requires thorough analysis of how it should best identify your business and set you apart from competitors.
With this, you must ensure your name of choice has been thoroughly reviewed before lodging the application with ASIC. If you want to expedite the process and avoid committing critical errors, you can reach out to us for expert advice.