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Do You Need an ABN to Register a Business Name? (2019 Update)

Do You Need an ABN to Register a Business Name? (2019 Update)

Have a great name for your business but not sure if you need an ABN? Read this article to find out whether you need an ABN to register a business name.

23rd August 2019
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Whether you’ve come up with a brilliant name for your new venture, or you just want to trade under a professional name, there are certain things required in order for you to register a business name. Specifically, many people wonder whether they need to register an Australian Business Number (ABN). In this article, we’ll discuss whether you need to have an ABN in place to register a name for your business.

Australian Business Names

A business name is a name under which a person or entity operates a business. Registering a name for your business will allow you to market and promote your business and also draw in customers.

Sole traders

For sole traders, their business name is the same as their individual name. For example, if Greg Wilson runs a business as a sole trader, his business’s name will also be Greg Wilson. If Greg wants to operate as ‘Greg’s Seafood’, then he will need to register a business name. This is because the ATO considers a sole trader and their business one and the same. Further, sole traders are taxed on their individual income.


Similar rules apply for partnerships, in that the business’s name is the surnames and first initials of each partner. In order to trade under a commercial name, a business name needs to be registered.


Companies are able to trade under a commercial name, being the company name. However, if a company wants to trade under any names other than their formal company name, then they will have to register a business name.

Australian Business Numbers (ABNs)

Australian Business Numbers (ABNs) apply to all formal Australian business structures. These include sole traders, partnerships, and also companies. Although ABNs are not compulsory for all businesses, if you make over $75,000 per year or charge GST, then you will need to have one. Further, an ABN will legitimise your business and acts as an identifier on all your business’s documents.

Do I need an ABN to register a name for my business?

Yes, you do. This is because your business name will be linked to your ABN. Your application for a business name will be refused if you do not have an ABN however, you can apply if your ABN application is still being processed. Further, it is also a good idea to make sure that there isn’t already a business name registered with your proposed name. You can do this by searching for your name online.

Having a registered name for your business will allow you to not only market and promote your business, but you’ll also be able to protect your intellectual property. If you’re not sure whether you need to register a business name, it is worth speaking to a business lawyer.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of Lawpath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.