May 2012

How will the new national business names registration system affect you?

On 28 May 2012, a new system (governed by Business Names Registrations Act and associated legislation) for registering, maintaining and cancelling a business name nationally will commence.

Up until now, business name registrations have been the separate responsibility of each State and Territory. This meant that businesses wanting to register a particular name in more than one State or Territory needed to apply for registration in each of the applicable States and Territories.

This was a costly exercise and imposed an unwelcome administrative burden on business owners.

The National System will be administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission(ASIC).

Key changes

Below we have identified some of the key changes that will be implemented by the New System:

  • If, prior to 28 May 2012, you have a registered business name in any State and Territory, this will automatically be migrated to the New System.  You do not have to do anything.

  • If, prior to the Commencement Date, you have the same business name registered in multiple States and Territories, all of these registrations will be migrated to the New System.  You can then decide whether to maintain all of the separate registrations or allow for all but one to lapse.  You will only need to maintain one business name in order to have national protection.

  • If, as at the Commencement Date, your registered business name is identical to one or more other business names (owned by another person) registered in another State or Territory, all registered business names will be migrated to the New System.  Identical business names owned by different persons will be equally valid and enforceable under the New System. In order to distinguish identical business names on the New System, ASIC may add a geographic identifier to show where the business name was originally registered.

  • If you hold a registered business name prior to the Commencement Date, and that name comes up for renewal in the two month period following the Commencement Date you may be subject to a ‘phasing in’ period which allows a slightly longer period for payment of renewal fees.

  • After the Commencement Date, you will only need to register your business name once under the New System in order for it to have national effect. This means that no other person will be able to register an identical business name, even if it operates its business in a completely different State or Territory.

  • The registration fees for a business name will reduce under the New System. Registration fees will be $30 for one year and $70 for three years. This represents a significant cost saving, as previously, you would have had to pay a registration fee in each of the jurisdictions in which you chose to register your business name.

  • After the Commencement Date, all registrations, renewals, maintenance and searches will be managed electronically via an online portal. ASIC will initially maintain service points in locations all over Australia to allow for over the counter transactions.

  • If you have more than one registered business name, or a business name and a registered company, it is possible to request that the renewal date(s) for your business name(s) and your company be aligned so that it is possible to deal with all renewals and other annual fees at the same time.

We can assist with any questions you may have regarding the operation of the New System.  We are also able to act as your agents in the registration, maintenance and cancelling of business names.  If you would like further information, please contact Bartier Perry.

This bulletin may be read in conjunction with our April 2012 bulletin ‘New National Business Name System – Same Exclusivity Issue’