How To Choose A Company Name (2022 Update)

Mar 25, 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written by Dominic Woolrych

Choosing the right company name involves more than just coming up with a catchy name for your business. A company name also has legal implications – and it’s important that you understand what they are.

When choosing your company name, you need to think carefully – there are specific legal issues to consider before you move forward. This is important as any changes to your company name post-registration will incur a fee.

By taking into account all the relevant factors before company registration, you can identify the right company name.

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How to Choose A Company Name

How is a company name different from a business name?

It is important to note that a company name is not the same as a business name. A company name is a legal name such as ‘LawPath Operations Pty Ltd’, which appears on all official documents.  A company name can be different to your business name, examples include sole traders using their own name or the company name showing the name of a partnership, a proprietary limited company or an incorporated association.  A business name is the name commonly used by your business and customers. An example of this would be for example ‘LawPath’.

When choosing a company name you do not have to use your business name, however if you would like to continue using your business name, simply select ‘Use an Existing Name’ on the company registration form. For more information check out our previous post ‘What is the difference between a business name and a company name’.

Is My Proposed Name Available?

First of all, it is necessary to determine if your company name is available. Use LawPath’s Name Search tool, which is based on ASIC’s Identical Names Check facility, to confirm whether the name is available for registration.

For more information, check out our previous guide on ‘How to Check If My Company Name is Available?’.

Which Proprietary Limited should I select?

After you have selected your company name, you will be asked to choose the legal element for your company. For a company limited by shares, this is PTY LTD. All the legal element options (for example PTY LTD, PTY LIMITED) are all legally identical. It is simply a matter of styling preference. Some people prefer dots between the PTY and LTD, some prefer PTY LIMITED.

Note: the word ‘Limited’ does not mean public company. All the options are for private companies.

For your name to be approved, it must be unique and distinct. Further, your name should not be false, misleading, offensive, or otherwise illegal.

Company names that are not acceptable for registration

If your proposed company name is similar to an existing registered company, then you cannot register you company name and must choose a new unique one. ASIC considers a name to be identical “if it is too similar to an existing registered name”. This is even so once spaces and certain characters are removed. Pluralisation of the name is also taken into consideration.” i.e. ‘Dollar Shop’ and ‘$ Shop’ or ‘Cat emporium’ and ‘Cats emporium’.

Your company name will also not be valid if it includes the following words:

  • Consumer
  • Bank
  • Trustee

There are also other words which cannot be used. Further, your name cannot suggest a misleading connection with government or the Royal Family unless it is approved. Names that may be obscene or offensive to the public are also unacceptable for registration by ASIC. You can see the complete list on the ASIC restricted terms list.

What if you don’t have a proposed name for your new company?

If you haven’t decided on your name yet, you can use your Australian Company Number (ACN) as your company name.

On LawPath’s company registration form, you can select ‘Use ACN as the company name’. Your ACN has a unique nine digit number. This will be used with your company suffix as the company name. Say that your ACN number is “000 000 000” and the legal elements you chose when registering your company were “Pty Ltd”, then your company name would be “000 000 000 Pty Ltd”.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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