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.

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, 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 Company 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 PTY LTD 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.

Company names that are acceptable for registration

To be approved as an acceptable name, it must be unique and distinct from all other company names; and should not be false, misleading, offensive, or otherwise illegal matter.

Company names that are unacceptable 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 once whitespace 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’
  • If the name includes the word ‘consumer’, ‘bank’, ‘ANZAC’, ‘trustee’ or other specified words, or where the name may suggest a misleading connection with government or the Royal Family, it is not allowed to be used in company names without the approval of a specified Minister or government agency. The complete list of reserved words and the relevant ministerial bodies can be found in the ASIC restricted terms list.
  • Names that may be obscene or offensive to the public are also unacceptable for registration by ASIC

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

If you haven’t decided on a company name yet, you are allowed to use the Australian Company Number (ACN) assigned by ASIC as your company name. On LawPath’s company registration form, you can select ‘Use ACN as the company name’. ACN has a unique nine digit identifier and will be used in coexistence with your chosen legal elements 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”.

Ready to register a company? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our lawyer marketplace or any other legal needs.

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.