In May 2012, a new online system to register, renew and search business names, known as the national Business Names Register, was commenced by ASIC.
The new system replaces eight state and territory systems and offers a single online service to simplify business registration in Australia.
- Business names need only be registered once to have national effect throughout Australia. Previously, registration of a business name was required in each state and territory in which the business operates, costing businesses more than $1,000.
- Business owners will have the option of registering their name annually at a cost of $30, or for a period of three years at a cost of $70.
- All business names which were validly registered in a state or territory before the introduction of the new system have been automatically transferred to the national business names register by ASIC.
- As new business name registrations require an ABN, the new online system includes a linked online ABN application, allowing business name owners to apply for an ABN at the same time as registration of the business name.
- Where there are two or more identical or nearly identical business names recorded on the national register, ASIC will provide additional information on the register and may also include a distinguishing word or expression to assist in differentiating between the names. Such distinguishing words or expressions will not form part of the business name.
- Businesses may choose to withhold certain contact details on the national register.
- ASIC will send reminders to business name owners to notify when renewal is due.
Business owners may view the register online here to ensure their business name details are correct.
It is also important to consider that where a name or brand is used by a business in connection with particular goods or services, whether an application should be made to register that name or brand as a trade mark. Trade mark registrations generally provide more protection of intellectual property. Similarly, if you are intending to use a new business name, a trade mark search should be conducted to assess any risk of infringing third party rights.