Do you need to register a business name? Here’s what you should know
After 1 November 2025, the Australian Business Register (ABR) will no longer display trading names. The move might have you wondering what a “trading name” is and whether you’re about to be in hot water with the Government’s business name regulators.
There is a good chance that the changes will not affect your business. However, it’s always worth double-checking that your business name is registered correctly so you’re not left open to copycats or regulatory action.
5 key things you need to know
1. What trading names were
A trading name was simply an alias or secondary name that sole traders and partnerships used to brand themselves. In most cases, trading names were used in addition to a registered name. But plenty of business owners were trading under any name they chose.
Trading names were unregistered and had no legal protection. Although they did not need ASIC approval, they were also not protected from infringement or imitation.
2. What’s changing
The ABR has been gradually retiring trading names. This process officially kicked off in May 2012. Since then, the ABR has not collected or updated trading names.
Initially, the goal was to retire trading names on 1 November 2018. However, the transition period was extended for another five years until 31 October 2023 and now another two years until 1 November 2025.
When you conduct a business name check from 1 November, the ABR will no longer display trading names. Only the entity’s legal name and registered business names will appear.
3. Will trading names automatically become registered business names?
No. Trading names and business names are different, and there is no automatic transition. Businesses can no longer use or be identified by trading names. This means if you want your business to be findable on ABN Lookup, you have three options:
- Register a business name
- Trade under your legal entity name (e.g. ABC Pty Ltd)
- Trade under your own name (e.g. Taylor Smith)
4. Trading names vs business names
ASIC oversees business name registration, both approving business names and protecting brands from infringement.
As a general rule, the only time you do not need a registered business name is if you trade under your own name or the legal entity (company) name. For example:
- Blake is a freelance graphic designer with a sole trader ABN. Because Blake uses their given name, there is no need to register a business name.
- Taylor runs “Taylor’s Corner Café” as a sole trader. “Taylor’s Corner Café” is a registered business name under Taylor’s ABN.
- Blake and Taylor form a partnership. If they engage clients using their full names, let’s say “L., Blake & S., Taylor”, they do not need a registered business name. However, if they brand themselves “Blake and Taylor’s Café and Co-Working”, they must register the name.
5. What you need to do
If you are still using an unregistered trading name: Register a business name immediately to ensure ASIC has no reason to take regulatory action.
If you registered a business name between May 2012 and today: Check your details are correct.
- Entity name: The company name registered with ASIC or your legal sole trader name (displayed as ‘SURNAME, FIRST NAME’).
- ABN status: If your ABN is inactive, check out our guide to easy ABN renewal.
- Entity type: There are four main business types in Australia, but including sub-types, you have over 150 choices when registering an ABN.
- Goods & Services Tax (GST): Businesses earning over $75k ($150k for charities) must register to pay GST.
- Main business location: Check that your location is accurate.
If you are unsure which category you fall into, a business name check is the best place to start. You can do this through the Australian Government’s ABN Lookup tool, which links to ABR records.
Confused about trading names, business names and legal entities?
All the acronyms and similar-sounding Government names can make your head swim. Plus, the Government’s online business services are not very user-friendly if you want to update ABN details or register a new business name.
Registry Australia keeps things simple. We’ve removed the jargon and extra steps to save you time, hassle and headaches.
Our online business services give you the tools to manage business name registration and renewal, ABNs, and company registration. With dedicated local support and easy-to-use online tools, you can stress less and focus on growing your business.