What is happening?

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) is working with the Australian Business Register to retire the use of trading names in Australia.

After 31 October 2018, the ABN Lookup will cease displaying trading names and only registered business names will be listed.

To continue trading under a specific name, you need to register it as a business name. After a business name is successfully registered it will appear on ASIC’s business names register and the ABN Lookup.

From November, all trading names will be removed from ABN Lookup. Only registered business names will continue to be listed, so check you have registered your trading name as a business name with ASIC by then.

What are trading names?

A ‘trading name’ refers to an unregistered name that businesses could use to carry on their business activities before the introduction of the National Business Names Register on 28 May 2012.

A trading name is a pseudonym frequently used by businesses to operate under a name different from their registered legal name, and often because a preferred name cannot be registered (such as when already registered or too similar to a name that is already registered).

A trading name is not a registered business name.

Do I need to register a business name?

Here are some examples of when you should register your business name:

  • Tessa Scott owns a cupcake business as a sole trader. Her legal name is Tessa Scott and she wants her business to be known as Tessa Scott’s Cupcakes.
  • John Smith and Jamie Johnson run a plumbing business together, operating as a partnership. Their partnership’s legal name is John Smith and Jamie Johnson but they want their business to be known as John and Jamie’s Plumbing.
  • A private company is registered with ASIC under its legal name Alex Smith Pty Ltd. The company wants to operate under the name ‘Ace Consulting’, so it must be registered as a business name.
What’s next?

Under a transitional arrangement, trading names registered under the old state and territories system have continued to be displayed in the trading name field of the ABN Lookup. This will cease as of 31 October 2018 and the ABN Lookup will only display business names registered under the new national system.

To continue using a trading name after October 2018, businesses have to register them.

If you want your business to trade under a name that is different from your legal name, then you’ll have to register a business name with ASIC using the Business Registration Service.

Remember, a registered business name doesn’t give you full rights to that name. If you want exclusive rights and stop others using it you should consider applying for a trade mark.

Still unsure how this affects you?

You can find more information from the ASIC and the Australian Business Register websites.

It is a good idea to search the Australian Business Register for your ABN, to see what records are currently held regarding your trading and registered business names.

And of course if you still have questions or are unsure what to do next, contact the friendly staff at Business Wise on 4922 6128.

Business Wise
The team at Business Wise don't just do bookkeeping and accounting - we believe that successful businesses are those that are informed, proactive and open to change, and we want to help you on your journey to success.