So you want to know how to register a business name in Australia. Do you feel you’ve done everything necessary to ensure you’re registering the business name you want?
Yes, you’ve picked the perfect name for your business and now you’re ready to create your brand and kick off your marketing campaigns. Before you do that however, did you conduct a business name search in Australia?
You need to do this to understand if you are legally allowed to use the name. What if another business in Australia is already using the name? Will the name land you in hot water by infringing on a registered trademark and is the dot-com domain name available for your website?
As you can see, picking a business name isn’t as easy as putting a few catchy words together.
So with that in mind let’s run through a few things you need to check before you start branding your business and finding your first clients.
Choosing a Business Name
Coming up with the perfect name for your business is not easy. First you need to get your creative juices flowing and try to come up with a name that is unique, memorable and on brand.
If you’ve been through this process and you already have a name in mind for your
Business, that’s great and now you can move on to the next steps. If not and you’re still trying to come up with a name, then check out our Business Names Ideas categories page. Here you’ll get an outline of the process I use to come up with the perfect business names for my clients and you’ll also find a bunch of great ideas to help you through the creative process.
Once you’ve got a name in mind for your business there are a few things you need to check to make sure you are legally allowed to use the name and that it’s fully available for you to use any way you need to.
What to Check Before you register a business name in Australia
First, let’s look at the legal rules in Australia on what you can and cannot use as a name for your business.
Business Name Rules in Australia
If you want to use your personal legal name which is just your own name for your business name you are allowed to do so without registering the name with a government agency. So if your name is Jane Smith, and you run a bookkeeping business and call your business Jane Smith, you may not need to register the name because it is exactly the same as your personal legal name. This is assuming you are not registering a separate legal entity, that is, a company for the scope of this business.
If, on the other hand, you call your business Jane Smith Bookkeeping, you will most likely need to register the name with your local authority because by adding in the word ‘bookkeeping’ the name of your business is no longer exactly the same as your personal legal name.
Business Name Availability
Now before you go ahead and actually register the business name you need to check whether it is already taken by another business.
The easiest way to do this is to find an online tool that allows you to check business name availability in Australia.
In Australia that tool is found on the asic.gov.au website. Simply type in the name you want to use for your business and check the results that come up.
If you’re lucky and your chosen business name is available then you’re on the right track. However, you still need to check a few more things before you register the name.
Trademarking of Business Name in Australia
One of those things is to check whether your chosen business name is potentially going to infringe on a registered trademark in Australia, or even worldwide.
If you infringe on a trademark you may end up being sued, oe at the very least be forced to change the name of your business.
So how can you avoid this.
Trademarking a business name in Australia is done through IPAustralia. This is a government website that holds a registry of all trademarks filed in Australia. So, if your business name is already trademarked, you will find it here.
If it’s not in the Australian trademark registry, then you’re almost done. However, if you intend to do business in other parts of the world then I suggest you also do a search for any potential trademarks in those countries where you will be conducting your business.
Go to Google and type in ‘check trademark’ or ‘trademark search’ in ‘country of your choice’. You should find the equivalent of IPAustralia in every country. Make sure you click on the official government website.
Use Common Sense when Choosing a Business Name
The second thing you should do to avoid any legal trouble over trademarks is to use common sense. For example, if you name your company ‘Swoosh’, then you might infringe on a trademark registered by Nike.
So, naturally, if you’re going to give your business a name that is similar to a popular brand name you are probably going to hear from a lawyer very soon after.
Do yourself a favor and try to think of a business name that is unique and won’t land you in hot water.
When you’re just starting a business you don’t want to be dealing with unnecessary complications as you’ll already have quite a lot of stuff on your plate.
Now that we’ve checked the legal side of things we just have two more things to check, and both relate to your business’s online presence.
- Whether the domain name is available and
- whether the social media handles are available
Let’s look at these in more detail below.
Australian or Generic Business Domain Name
If you want to use a domain name that is exactly the same as your new business name, which I definitely recommend, then you need to check whether it is available.
This is easy to do. Simply go to Namecheap.com type in your business name or the domain name you want to use, if this is different.
The tool will check whether the dot com domain is available and will also give you a list of other various other versions of the domain that are available. if you want to use the dot com and it’s not available you may need to choose a different name for your business.
On the other hand if you are happy to use a different extension such as the country specific extension, which for Australia is dot au, (managed by the auDA) or alternatively generic TLDs such as dot ORG, or dot NET, you can do that instead.
Note that up to 2022, in Australia the country specific domain extension was .com.au but this was shortened to just .au for people who can demonstrate they have a connection to Australia.
It’s up to you to decide what domain name you want to choose for your business. However, keep in mind that dot com domains are often already taken so they are hard to come by.
Social Media Handles for your Business Name
The final thing to check is whether the handles are available for any social media accounts you want to use.
For example if you want to use twitter or instagram to market your business go to Brandsnag social media name checker and see if your chosen business name is available on the social media platforms you want to use.
Business Name Register in Australia
Okay you’re nearly at the end now and it’s been quite a journey. You’ve been through the creative process, done your legal checks and made sure you can get the domain name and social media accounts you want.
Now all you need to do is actually register your business name.
In Australia you register your business name online through business.gov.au. For legally registering your chosen business name just follow the process outlined on the website, pay the registration fee and the name will soon be yours.
You can now move on to branding your business and kicking off your marketing campaigns.