Rules while choosing a company name- Australia

While incorporating a company, one of the important task is to choose a legal and valid company name.

There are a few things you should consider when choosing a company name.


A company’s name cannot be identical to an existing name

You can only use a name that is not identical to an existing company or business name. Use the check name availability search to see if the name you want is available with the authority.

If you are the holder of an identical name already, you may be able to register the name for the company in some cases:

Where the business name holder is… the name is only available to the proposed company if...
an individual that individual is a proposed company director or member
a company that same company is a proposed member
a partnership or joint venture each of the partners is a proposed company director or member
a trust each of the trustees is a proposed company director or member, and you have provided ASIC with a copy of the trust deed

Before May 2012, it was possible for multiple businesses with the same name to exist as long as they were registered in different states and territories. This is no longer possible under ASIC’s national register. You won’t be able to register a company name if an identical name already exists.

Some terms are restricted

There are for example few words and phrases that cannot be used without the approval of a government minister. Some examples include:

  • ‘bank’
  • ‘trust’
  • ‘Royal’
  • ‘Incorporated’

You should not use words that could mislead people about a company’s activities. This includes associations with Australian government, the Royal Family, or any ex-servicemen’s organizations.

The Authority may also refuse a name if it’s considered offensive or suggests illegal activity. See company name availability to learn more about company names and restricted words.

Reserving a company name

There is a provision to reserve your company name in advance if you aren’t ready to register your company but want to make sure a name is available, you can apply to reserve it (Form 410).

If  the application is approved, the name will be reserved for two months. If you wish to extend this period, you’ll need to apply to reserve the name again.

The selected name will not be reserved for a long period as this prevents other people from using the name to conduct business.

Check existing trademarks or names

Even if the name is reserved or registered , a company with a similar trademark or name may take action against you. It is your responsibility to be aware of any similar names or trademarks that may affect your name. Visit the IP Australia website to search for existing trademarks.

A company’s name must show its legal status

A company must show the liability of its members and status in its name. For example:

  • if a company’s members’ liability is limited to the amount unpaid on their shares, the name must end with ‘Proprietary Limited’
  • if the members’ liability is unlimited, the company name must end with ‘Proprietary’.

Visit Company Incorporation in Australia for a step by step guide on company incorporation in Australia.