Register your business name.


19th May, 2022

How to register your business

Whether you’re a sole trader or launching a company, there are certain things you’ll need to register for to remain compliant with business regulators.

From registering your business name to getting an ABN and understanding trademarking, this article will show you how registering your business isn’t just necessary, but relatively straightforward.

Registering your business means completing a few quick application processes, depending on the type of business you intend to run. This lets the government and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) know that you’re operating a legal business entity.

What business registrations do I need?

Tax File Number

One of the first things you’ll need is a Tax File Number (TFN). If you’re planning on operating as a sole trader, you can use your personal TFN.

If you’re setting up a business as another kind of entity, like a trust, partnership or company, then it will require its own TFN.

READ: What you need to know about business structures

Need to apply for a business TFN? You can easily start the process by applying on the Australian Business Register (ABR) website.

Australian Business Number

An Australian Business Number (ABN) helps the government and community identify your business. It’s required to process all sorts of taxes, including payroll tax and GST.

The process of getting an ABN is very simple. You can do it online through the ABR website, which should only take about 10 minutes. Plus, it’s completely free to apply.

Australian Company Number

For when you plan to run your business as a company, you’ll need to apply for an Australian Company Number (ACN).

This is achieved by lodging an application through the Australian Securities and Investments (ASIC) website.

Goods and Services Tax

Businesses turning over $75,000 or more in revenue each year will need to be registered to collect Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Currently, you can register for GST via the ABR website or through the Business Portal of the ATO website.

Pay As You Go Withholding

Pay As You Go Withholding (PAYG) is a key registration for any business seeking to pay staff, contractors on voluntary agreements or even other businesses if they don’t happen to have an ABN.

Luckily, registering for PAYG can be done at the same time you acquire an ABN on the ABR website. You can also find out more about PAYG and how to manage it on the ATO website.

Registering your business name

Beyond the practical and compliance related registrations you need when starting a business, you may also like to register your business name.

Registering a business name means you let the government know the name you will trade under.

You can register your business name through the Australian Securities and Investment Commission’s (ASIC) website. However, you do not need to register a business name if you are trading under your personal name.

RESOURCE: Registering your business name

Registering a business name does not mean you own that name. In fact, on the Australian Business Registry you will find that there may be many businesses that exist with similar names to your own.

If you wish to exclusively own your business’ name, you must register it as a trademark with IP Australia.

Trademarking and business IP

Trademarking is about registering your brand to protect your business’ identity.

This usually comes in the form of a brand name, but can also include other unique brand elements, such as logos and slogans.

Trademarking is just one type of intellectual property that you are able to protect through IP Australia. Other common forms are patents and copywriting. You can find more information on all three forms of IP here.

There are several benefits to trademarking your brand, one of which is legal security. For example, if copycat businesses negatively affect your business’ reputation or income, you’ll have some options to pursue to protect your business.

Before you decide whether trademarking is right for you and your business, read the five common mistakes people make when trademarking.

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Top 3 takeaways

  1. Registering your business is about making your business identifiable to the government and the community.
  2. Registering a business involves applying for an ABN, an ACN, PAYG and GST where applicable.
  3. Consider trademarking your brand or applying for patents or copyright, if they are relevant to your business.

READ NEXT: Your guide to GST for businesses