Registering a business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is a necessary step for every entrepreneur looking to conduct business in Australia.
A well-chosen business name can help you establish a strong brand identity, while proper registration ensures your company complies with relevant laws and regulations.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps required for ASIC business name registration, including choosing a suitable name that suits your business structure, the registration process, changing your registered name, trademarking, and registering a domain name.
Step 1: Choosing a Name for Your New Business
Selecting the perfect name for your new business is an art and a science. Great business names are memorable, easy to pronounce, and convey the essence of your company’s products or services.
According to a study by researchers at the University of Melbourne, businesses with simple and easy-to-pronounce names experienced higher levels of investor interest and financial success.
Additionally, a survey by Australian branding agency Truly Deeply found that 39% of consumers prefer brands with simple names, as they are perceived to be more trustworthy and reliable.
Experts like Alexandra Watkins, author of “Hello, My Name is Awesome,” emphasise the importance of avoiding common naming mistakes such as puns, obscure words, or overly descriptive terms that may limit your company’s growth.
Consider the success story of Atlassian, an Australian software company that chose a unique name inspired by the Greek Titan ‘Atlas’. Their name stands out and reflects their mission to support and empower businesses worldwide.
When choosing a name, also ensure it is available for registration with ASIC, as duplicate names or names too similar to existing businesses are not allowed. To check for name availability, use the ASIC Connect search tool.
Remember, a great business name can be the foundation for your business’s success, so invest the time and effort to find the perfect one.
Step 2: ASIC Business Name Registration
Once you’ve chosen the perfect name for your business, the next step is registering it with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Registering your business name is a legal requirement in Australia and ensures that you have the exclusive right to use the name for your business operations.
To help you navigate the registration process, we’ve outlined the key steps below:
- Check your name’s availability: Before starting the registration process, use the ASIC Connect search tool to check if your chosen name is available and doesn’t conflict with an existing business or registered trademark.
- Get your ABN: To register a business name, you’ll need an Australian Business Number (ABN) or an ABN application reference number. You can apply for an ABN online through the business registration service on the Australian Business Register (ABR) website that will be connected to you as a registered company.
- Create an ASIC Connect account: If you don’t already have one, create an ASIC Connect account, which will allow you to manage your business name registration online.
- Register your business name: Login to your ASIC Connect account, select ‘Licences and Registrations’, then ‘Register a business name’. Complete the required details, and pay the registration fee. Business name registration fees in Australia are $37 for one year or $87 for three years.
- Receive your registration record: Once your business name is registered, ASIC will send you a registration record, and your business name will be displayed on the ASIC Connect search tool.
Step 3: Trademarking Your Newly Registered Business Name
Protecting your brand and preventing others from using a similar name or logo that could confuse your customers is essential, and trademarking your business name achieves that goal.
The government agency responsible for intellectual property rights in Australia, IP Australia, manages trade marks. During the 2020-2021 period, as reported in IP Australia’s annual report, over 76,000 new trade mark applications were filed, underscoring the growing importance of safeguarding brand identity in today’s competitive marketplace.
To better understand the trademarking process when a business operates in Australia, consider the following key insights and steps from industry experts:
- Search for existing trade marks: Conduct a search using the Australian Trade Marks Search tool provided by IP Australia before filing a trade mark application to ensure your business name or logo does not infringe on existing trade marks.
- Familiarise yourself with trade mark classes: Register trade marks under specific classes representing your business’s goods or services. With 45 classes in total, identifying the correct classes for your trade mark application is crucial. IP Australia’s “Pick the Right Class” tool offers guidance.
- Prepare and submit your application: Provide your business details, a clear representation of your trade mark, and the classes you want to register for when preparing your application. File your trade mark application online through IP Australia’s eServices portal.
- Cover the application fee: The filing cost for a trade mark application depends on the number of classes you’re registering for and the application method.
- Wait for examination and approval: IP Australia examines your application to ensure it meets the necessary requirements, which may take several months. Once accepted, they will publish your trade mark in the Australian Official Journal of Trade Marks, followed by a two-month opposition period. If no opposition is received, your trade mark is registered.
Securing a trade mark for your newly registered business name protects your brand from potential infringement and enhances its value by establishing a legally recognised identity. So, registering a trade mark is a strategic investment for your business’s long-term success.
Step 4: Register a Domain Name for Your Business
Establishing an online presence is crucial for businesses in today’s digital age.
In fact, a recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that 85% of businesses in Australia had an online presence, highlighting the importance of a strong digital footprint.
Registering a domain name for your business is the first step in creating an effective online presence, as it serves as your website’s address and the foundation for your company’s email addresses.
When selecting a domain name, opt for one that is closely related to your sole trader or company name and is easy to remember, spell, and pronounce.
Ideally, your domain name should be short and descriptive, making it simple for customers to find you online. While the most common domain extension is ‘.com’, many other options are available, such as ‘.com.au’, ‘.net’, or even industry-specific extensions like ‘.store’ or ‘.tech’.
Choose an extension that best suits your business and target audience. For Australian businesses, a ‘.com.au’ domain extension is often recommended to signal your local presence and build customer trust.
Domain registrars like GoDaddy, Crazy Domains, or VentraIP can help you check the availability of your desired domain name and extension. If your preferred domain name is already taken, consider alternative extensions or slight variations to your chosen name.
Once you find an available domain name, register it through a domain registrar. Prices can vary depending on the registrar and the chosen domain extension, and domain registration typically comes with an annual renewal date to maintain ownership.
Lastly, consider investing in domain privacy services for an additional fee. This service keeps your personal information, such as your name, email, and phone number, hidden in the WHOIS database from public view.
Domain privacy can help protect your business from spam, identity theft, and other potential issues.
Can You Change an ASIC-Registered Name?
It’s not uncommon for businesses to change their ASIC-registered name, as they may evolve over time, pivot their focus, or rebrand for various reasons.
In fact, according to ASIC’s annual report, thousands of businesses undergo name changes each year, reflecting the business landscape’s dynamic nature.
To change your registered business name, you’ll need to log in to your ASIC Connect account and apply for a new business name following the same process as your initial registration.
Remember that you will have to pay the registration fee for the new name. Once ASIC approves your new business name, you must update all relevant business documentation, marketing materials, and online platforms to reflect the change. This includes updating your ABN details on the Australian Business Register (ABR) website and notifying the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and other relevant government agencies.
If your original business name was trade marked, you might need to consult an intellectual property expert to determine the best course of action for updating or registering a new trade mark for your rebranded business name.
Registering your business name with ASIC, protecting your brand through trade marking, and establishing a strong online presence with a domain name are critical steps to setting up a successful business in Australia.
Remember, choosing a unique and memorable business name, staying informed about regulations, and protecting your brand identity will help you stand out in today’s competitive marketplace.
If you’re seeking expert assistance in managing your accounting and tax obligations for your new business, don’t hesitate to contact us at KNS Accountants – our team of experienced professionals is ready to support you on your business journey.