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There are important differences between trading names and business names – and different registration requirements.

A trading name is the name under which a business trades or is known by. It’s also known as a business name if you carry on business under that name in Australia.

Both business names and trading names must be registered with ASIC as a business name – unless you carry on business under your own or your entity name, e.g. a registered company.

Between 1999 and 2013, if your trading name was registered on the Australian Business Register, it was also displayed on ASIC's ABN lookup, even if it hadn’t been registered as a business name.

Because of this, many businesses who hadn’t registered the trading name as a business name mistakenly thought they were compliant.

Fun Fact: One third of all trading names have not been registered as business names.

Business name registration was transferred from the states and territories to ASIC in May 2012 and since then the Australian Business Register has stopped updating or collecting trading names that are not registered with ASIC. But even out of date trading names have still been displayed in the ASIC ABN lookup.

ASIC will be removing trading names from the ABN lookup in July 2014. So if you haven't registered your trading name as a business name, you won't appear on the ABN lookup.

Why is this important?

Many businesses use the ABN lookup to verify tax invoices. If yours no longer appears, you might find it takes longer to get paid.

So check if your trading name is registered. If it's not, get in early before the rush.

If you have any concerns about any of these issues, please contact us.

Author: Claire Wivell Plater

December 2013

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