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Ever Wonder about the Difference Between a Business Name & Trading Name?

Business name or trading name- what’s the difference, and which one do you need? 

Starting or running a business in Australia involves many steps, one of which is naming your business. As a business owner, you must have heard the terms’ business name’ and ‘trading name’ in various forms. 

However, a lot of business owners find themselves confused between a trading name and a business name. This confusion can lead to legal complications and branding issues down the road.

So, in this blog, we have simplified the two kinds so that you can remain compliant with the Australian regulation. 

What Is a Business Name?

A business name is essentially the name you use to operate your business, and it can either be identical to your legal entity’s name or entirely different. If you’re conducting business under your own name, there’s no need for separate registration. However, if you plan to use a different name from your legal entity’s name, it’s crucial to register it.

business name

Before settling on a business name, it’s a good idea to use the Online Business Name Checker tool provided by the Australian government to see if the name is available. This step is important before you invest in domain names or trademarks, as it ensures that no one else has already claimed the name.

Keep in mind, you’ll need to have an existing Australian Business Number (ABN) before you can register your business name.

What Is a Trading Name?

A trading name is a name you use to conduct business, but it is not a legal entity and is not registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Before the National Business Names Register was introduced on 28 May 2012, businesses commonly used trading names.

As of 28 May 2012, the Australian Business Register (ABR) ceased the collection and updating of trading names. However, trading names that were already on record before this date will remain visible on ABN Lookup until 31 October 2025, though they can no longer be modified.

trading name

The extension of the transitional period allows these trading names to be displayed until 31 October 2025, giving businesses additional time to update their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders about any changes to their business names.

This extended timeline also provides the business community with more opportunities to register their business names with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Until 31 October 2025, ABN Lookup will continue to show all existing trading names. From 1 November 2025 onward, only registered business names will be displayed on ABN Lookup.

When Would I Use A Trading Name vs. A Business Name?

Starting a business involves many decisions, including what to call your company. Understanding the difference between a trading name and a business name is crucial for making the right choice and protecting your legal rights.

A trading name is typically used by sole traders and partnerships without requiring legal registration. This means it doesn’t need official approval from ASIC. However, if someone else tries to register a business using your trading name, their application will be rejected because the name isn’t officially registered with ASIC.

On the other hand, if you want to formally register your business with ASIC and use a specific name, you will need to obtain their approval first. ASIC ensures that the name you choose is not misleading or deceptive. If the name does not meet their criteria, they can reject it, and you’ll need to select a different name.

Choosing between a trading name and a business name depends on your business structure and long-term goals. Understanding this distinction helps you make an informed decision and comply with legal requirements.

Why Do I Need to Register My Business?

Many businesses choose to name their company after their founders or owners. If you decide to do this, it’s important to know that a business name is distinct from a personal name and does not require registration. 

difference between a Business Name & Trading Name

However, if you plan to use a brand name instead of your personal name, there are several compelling reasons to register it:

Protection from Infringement: Registering your brand name helps safeguard it from potential infringement. Without realising it, someone might use a name, logo, or slogan similar to yours. They might even mimic your product designs, fonts, or overall branding.

Increasing Consumer Trust: In a market flooded with counterfeit products, especially on platforms like Amazon Marketplace, consumers have become wary of new brands. Registering your brand early on helps establish credibility and trust with customers who are looking for authentic products from reputable sellers.

Protection from Imitation: Registering your trademark before launching it into the market protects it from being copied by others. This not only prevents others from capitalising on your hard work but also provides a legal pathway to take action against infringers. 

If someone attempts to steal your business identity, you can recover damages and have your legal costs covered by the defendant.

Registering your brand is a crucial step in protecting your business and ensuring its long-term success.

Still Have Some Questions? 

If you still have some questions about the business name and trading name, we suggest you get in touch with one of our experts at Clear Tax Accountants. Our experts can help you understand you obligations better and stay complaint with the regulatory requirements. 


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