Previously, business name registrations were dealt with at State level. From 28 May 2012, a new National Business Names Register (NBNR) was established, which is administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Business Names Registered before 28 May 2012
The change did not affect registered business names which were registered before 28 May 2012.
Existing business names were automatically be transferred to the new national register and retained their existing expiry dates (i.e. in South Australia, 3 years from registration).
If a renewal was required before the transition date (28 May 2012), this was dealt with by the relevant state-based agency and, once renewed, the name was transferred to the NBNR.
Business Names Registered after 28 May 2012
ASIC took control of the registration of business names from 28 May 2012 and implemented an online service available for applications, renewals and payments.
After the transition date, business name registration became a national system. This means that for a business operating across state borders, there was no longer a need to register the same name in multiple states.
If, under the old laws, a person had registered the same business name in a number of states, then following the transition they have two choices:
- keep only one business name record (e.g. the business name with the latest registration expiry date) and cancel the registration of the remaining business names; or
- leave all business names in place and simply choose not to renew the excess business names as their registration period expires.
In some cases where ASIC identified a party as being the holder of a number of identical business names following the transition, it took steps to combine these into a single entry in the NBNR, to expire on the last date of expiry of all combined entries.
What information is available on the NBNR?
One of the purposes of the NBNR is to ensure that, if an entity carries on a business under a business name, the entity can be identified by the public. As such, contact details will be available via the public register located on ASIC’s website.
The contact details that will be publicly available (through a paid extract) include the entity’s address for service and principal place of business. If the business name holder is an individual, their date of birth, place of birth and residential address will not be disclosed (unless the residential address is the same as the principal place of business, in which case the extract will disclose the suburb, postcode and state or territory).
Businesses can choose to register their business name nationally at a cost of $42 for one year or $98 for three years.
(Fees correct for the 2022-2023 financial year, as at 24 November 2023)
Protecting your brand
Your business name is an important part of your brand. You should also consider whether to trade mark your name or your logo. A registered trade mark provides you with proprietary rights in the name, meaning you can require others to change their identical or similar trading names. You do not get this level of protection with a business name or company name alone.
The information contained in this post is current at the date of editing – 24 November 2023