If you’re in South Australia and you’re thinking of starting your own business, then registering a business name is one of the first things you will need to tick off your list. 

In this article, we’ll go through what a business name actually is, how to register yours and ways you can protect it. 

What Is A Business Name?

A business name is the name your business identifies and trades with. Usually, the business name is what the public knows a business as.

It’s important to register your business name – this is a required administrative formality. 

The only exception to registering a business name is if you are operating as a sole trader or under a partnership and using your own name(s). This is the only time you do not need to register your business name. 

Jane sells handmade candles online as a sole trader. Her business name is simply her name, ‘Jane Smith’. In this case, Jane doesn’t need to register her business name.  

However, if Jane had chosen a different name for her business that wasn’t her personal name, then she would need to register it. 

Business Name Vs Company Name

As we saw with sole traders and partnerships, the type of business structure you choose will  impact the rules you follow when registering your business. 

This is the same for businesses that choose to apply as a company. Along with a business name, a company will need to apply to have a separate company name. Once your business is registered as a company, it will be identified as its own legal entity. 

A company name will either have LTD or PTY LTD if it is a private company at the end of the name. However, most company names aren’t the operating name companies use – it’s generally used as a legality. 

Pink slippers Sydney Pty Ltd is the legally registered company name for a certain company, however, they trade under their business name, ‘Pink Slippers’. 

If your company name and the operating name you use are identical (and you already have a legally registered company), then you likely don’t need to apply to register a business name in this scenario.  

How To Register A Business Name In South Australia

The process for registering a business name in Australia is the same throughout the whole country. 

Therefore, registering a business name in South Australia is no different to how you would register a business name anywhere else in Australia. 

In order to do this, you will need to apply to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). This can be done online using the Business Registration Service

Through this portal, you will also be able to register for any relevant taxes such as GST or PAYG, so make sure you have all the relevant information you will need before you get started! 

ASIC Business Name Search

It’s pretty disappointing to want a name only to find out it’s not available at the last minute. 

In order to avoid this, use the ASIC Business Name Search to see what names are available.

That way, when you register your business name you can be assured it’s available.  

Protecting Your Business Name In South Australia

A question we get asked a lot here at Sprintlaw is whether a business name belongs to the business owner once it is registered. 

The answer to this question is no. Registering a business name doesn’t mean you have complete ownership of the name – other people can still use it. 

Some business owners are okay with this. Other business owners, however, are interested in getting legal protection for their business name. If you think your business name is something original and you don’t want others using it to potentially copy your business, then you might want to look into protecting your business name. 

If you want to protect your business name and prevent others in the same industry as yours from using it, you can always trademark your business name. 

A trademark is registered with IP Australia. If the application is successful, you will be able to own the trademark for 10 years with the option for renewal. 

The process to register a trademark can be a rather lengthy process – it’s better to have the help of a legal professional that specialises in intellectual property.  

What Else Do I Need?

When you register your business, you may also notice the option to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN). Generally, applying to register your business will result in getting an ABN (unless you already have one). 

Your ABN is an important 11 digit number you will require for most legal and formal processes involving your business, make sure you get yours! 

If you are starting a company, then you will need to get an Australian Company Number (ACN) along with your ABN. 

Key Takeaways

Registering your business name is one of the first and most important steps to getting your business running. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • A business name is the registered name your business operates under
  • Business names need to be registered with ASIC – you can use the name search to see what is available
  • You must register your business name unless you’re operating as a sole trader or partnership business and using your own name 
  • If you are operating a company, then you will need to register a company name as well 
  • Companies usually have both a business name (their operating name) and a company name. If a registered company has company name that is identical to their operating name, they do not need to register it as a business name 
  • Registering a business name doesn’t mean you own it or offer any legal protection. If this is something you want, then you should look into getting your business name trademarked. 

If you would like a consultation on registering a business name in South Australia, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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