Clements Dunne & Bell Melbourne

Changes to the registration of business names are coming - How does it affect your business?

Any business that trades under a name that is different to its legal name, is required to register that business name at risk of stiff penalties.

Even the use of minor variants and abbreviations such as “& Associates” fall foul and the business name needs to be registered.

Currently each state & territory control the registration of business names in their own state/territory.  Historically, this has meant that a business trading in several states needs to register the business name separately in each of those states.

The new national legislation will hand control to ASIC with effect from mid 2012 and is set to reduce the red tape faced by business.

Public consultation on the Business Names Registration Bill 2011 has recently concluded and the states and territories are now considering the legislation.

Key changes are:

  1. A reduction in fees

Fees are likely to range from approximately $30 for a 1 year registration and $70 for a 3 year registration.

  1. Increased speed

The intention is for the new online system to confirm registration of the business name on the spot.

  1. Additional functionality

The new system will allow for a joint business name and Australian Business Number (ABN) registration.

It will also include links to trademark and domain name searches

  1. Simplicity

Last but not least.  The new system will provide a uniform system throughout Australia that will reduce the complexity and administrative burden currently faced by business.

What do I need to do if I have already got a business name registered?

The short answer is – nothing!

Once the new system goes live, the states and territories will facilitate that transfer of existing business names onto the new system.

Notwithstanding, it is recommended that businesses review their details when they have moved across to the new system to ensure that all details are correct and up to date.

The expiry dates of existing business names will remain the same and ASIC will issue renewal reminder notices in due course.

What happens if my business name is the same as another in a different state?

It is intended that both names will be registered.  ASIC may add an identifier such as the location of the business for administrative purposes.  However, this will not affect the actual business name and there will be no changes required to invoices, stationery, business cards, etc.

All new business name applications will be subject to the availability of the name as has been the case in the past under the state/territory based systems.

How do I find out more?

More information can be found by visiting the ABN Business Names Registration Project webpage on the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research website.


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Daniel Clements
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Paul Clements
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