How to Check if Your Business Name is Available: A Comprehensive Guide to Registering a Business Name

A lot goes into naming a business. Whether it’s a single word like Apple, an acronym like QANTAS, something catchy like SpaceX or friendly like Mrs Mac’s Pies, the right name rolls off the tongue.

And that kind of instant recognition is crucial for building a successful business. Research shows that nearly half (46%) of people would pay more for a brand they trust.

Registering a business name is one of the most exciting moments leading up to launching your new venture. So you want to avoid disappointment by choosing a name that’s compliant, catchy and – perhaps most importantly – available to register.

Good to know: ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, is the body in charge of regulating business names.

Business name registration is essential for branding and customer service reasons, but also to ensure your right to trade under your preferred name is protected by law.

We introduced the process of registering a business name in a previous post. This article updates and expands on the process with a step-by-step guide.

Do you need to register a business name?

You must register a business name if you’re starting a new business. The only exception is sole traders operating under their own name.

For example: Jane Smith runs her own consulting business. At first, she operated as Jane Smith Consulting Services, which meant she needed an ABN but not a registered business name. Now she’s getting more serious and rebranding as JS Consulting. Jane needs to register a business name.

A step-by-step guide to business name registration

Here’s how to simplify the process of choosing, checking and registering a business name in Australia.

  1. Conducting a Comprehensive Search

A thorough search helps you identify any potential conflicts with existing businesses. Those conflicts can be legal or reputational.

Legal: Since 2012, it’s been against the law to register a business name if it exists in another state or territory (unless the businesses are related).

Reputational: Registering a name that’s similar to an existing business can cause brand confusion.

There are several sources any Australian can access for free to conduct a comprehensive search. These include the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Business Name Register, the Australian Business Register’s ABN Lookup tool, or a simple Google search.

It’s also worth checking registered trademarks with IP Australia’s free tool to see if any of your logos, products or brand expressions could conflict with registered trademarks.

  1. Interpreting the Search Results

  • Exact match: Another business has already registered your desired name. You’ll need to choose a different name
  • Similar names: Your desired name is similar to another business, and you’ll need to consider whether it could be confusing or legally precarious
  • No match: Your desired name is likely available, but it’s important to double-check with the sources above before proceeding with registration

Remember that a registered business name doesn’t need to be an exact match to cause conflict. For example, calling a computer company “Apple Juice” could land you in hot water both legally and reputationally.

ASIC also restricts special characters, potentially offensive words and otherwise unacceptable terms. Read up on these before registering your business name.

  1. Alternative Naming Options

If your desired name is already taken, or there’s a name that’s too close for comfort, you have several options.

  • Using synonyms
  • Spelling the word differently
  • Translating the business name
  • Adding descriptive words

For example, “Apple Fruit & Veg Pty Ltd” and “Pomme Pty Ltd” are obviously not related to a certain computer company (although there are still probably better alternatives).

ASIC has the final say on registration. Even then, there are plenty of examples where alternative names have attracted the ire of established companies.

Read next: What to do if your Business Name is Taken.

  1. Registering the Business Name

Now that you’ve got a moniker that’s unique, catchy and available, it’s time to register your business name.

This step can involve a lot of paperwork. However, our simple online business name registration tool makes the process easier, faster and more secure.

  • Fast: We’ve designed our business name registration system to be user-friendly, so you can focus on building your business
  • Secure: As an ASIC Registered Agent, Registry Australia provides peace of mind knowing you’re dealing with an experienced and reliable company
  • Easier: Business owners can manage their registration, access dedicated support and benefit from renewal reminders, eliminating the hard work of managing business name registration

Plus, our business name registration specialists are available whenever you need support.

All you need to register a business name is a valid ABN. Our ABN Registration tool is an easy and affordable solution if you don’t have that yet.

What to do after registering a business name

After registering your business name, our suite of integrated services can help you grow your business. From domain hosting to dedicated customer support to affordable loans, we are Australia’s small business partner.

Getting started is simple. Enter your business name to begin the registration process, or call 1300 070 000 to speak with our local customer support team.

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