Business names/Trading names FAQsVersion: 9.4

How do I register a business name?

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) introduced a new national business names register on 28 May 2012, replacing state and territory registers. All business name registrations are now managed by ASIC.

Please refer to the ASIC website External site for more information.

What is the difference between business, trading and entity (legal) names?

Business names

The national business names registration service has replaced state and territory services, meaning you only need to register your business name once with a single national register.

The new service commenced on 28 May 2012 and is managed and administered by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

If your business does not operate under its own entity name (e.g. GLM Pty Limited) or your name (e.g. Jane Smith), you will need a registered business name.

To apply for a registered business name you will need to have (or be in the process of applying for) an Australian Business Number (ABN) External site.

If you have registered a new business name, the Australian Business Register (ABR) and ABN Lookup will automatically update with this information.

To register for, update or cancel a business name, you will need to go to the ASIC website External site.

Trading names

As of 28 May 2012, the Australian Business Register (ABR) External site no longer collects or updates trading names.

Trading names that were collected prior to 28 May 2012 will continue to be displayed in ABN Lookup and the ABR until October 2018, but can no longer be updated. This is to allow time for the business community to adjust to the new business name system and to take steps to register a business name which may have previously been unregistered.

From November 2018, ABN Lookup will cease displaying all trading names and only display registered business names.

Entity (legal) names

This is the name that appears on all official documents or legal papers.

Depending on the entity type, it may be one of the following:

  • Individual/sole trader – your name
  • Australian private company – the name registered with ASIC
  • Australian public company – the name registered with ASIC
  • Cooperative – the name as shown in the rules of the cooperative
  • Strata title – the name registered with a State authority
  • Other incorporated entity – the name registered with or incorporated under the relevant State Act
  • Partnership – the names of all the partners
  • Superannuation fund – the name as shown on the superannuation fund trust deed
  • Trust – the name of the trust as shown in the trust deed
  • Other unincorporated entity – the name by which your entity is usually known, as stated on any formal documentation (such as bylaws, charter, lodge orders, rules).

How do I update my trading name on ABN Lookup?

As of 28 May 2012, the Australian Business Register (ABR) External site no longer collects or updates trading names. You may need to register for a business name.To check if you need to register a business name visit the ASIC website External site.

Why doesn't my business name appear on ABN Lookup?

Business names registered before 28 May 2012 may not currently appear in ABN Lookup. However, you can update the ASIC register by adding the ABN to your business name record if you wish to. You can do this using ASIC's online service, ASIC Connect External site. Your updated business name record showing your ABN will appear on the ASIC Connect Search portal once your request has been processed, which may take several business days.

As you can no longer update your trading name with the Australian Business Register (ABR), adding your ABN to your business name record with ASIC is a way to show the link between your business and your ABN.

What is an ACN or ARBN?

Australian Company Numbers (ACNs) and Australian Registered Body Numbers (ARBNs) are 9 digit numbers issued by Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

  • An ACN is issued to an entity when it registers as a company under corporations law.
  • An ARBN is issued to an entity when it registers with ASIC other than as a company, for example, foreign companies and registrable Australian bodies.

For more information about companies and company structures please visit the ASIC website External site.

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