Failure to display a business name

This is Information Sheet 201 (INFO 201). It explains what you should do if you have a dispute with a business because they have not displayed their business name.

It explains:

  • some of the common disputes about how businesses use their names, and
  • steps you can take to resolve such disputes.

When must a business display its business name?

Businesses are not required to display their certificate of registration. The law requires that a business must display its name at each and every location where it is trading to the public – for example, where a business holds a stall at an exhibition.

Businesses should also have their business name on any official correspondence connected with conducting the business, such as quotations, tax invoices and receipts.

Please note there may be situations where the law may not require a business to do this. You can find more information about these exemptions in the Business Names Registration Act 2011.

Disputes about business names on invoices and tax receipts

When you buy goods or services from a business, you are generally entitled to receive an invoice or a document showing that you have entered into a contract with that business. If it is a written agreement, the law requires that it must include certain details such as the name of the business and the Australian Business Number (ABN).

If you have a query about an ABN or failure to provide an ABN on a document, you should contact the Australian Taxation Office.

What you should do

To resolve a dispute about failing to display a business name, there are a number of options available to you.

If you did not receive a receipt or invoice from a business for goods or services you bought

You can contact the business and request that they provide you with an invoice or receipt. The business is required to print their ABN and business name on receipts and invoices. If you have dealt with a business that has not supplied an ABN, you can get more information about what to do from the Australian Taxation Office.

If the business refuses or is unable to provide you with these details, you may wish to contact the fair trading or consumer affairs regulator in your state or territory, or seek legal advice about your options.

If you are concerned that a business you are dealing with might not be registered

You can check whether the party you are dealing with is a registered business or company via the ASIC Connect website.

If your dispute is about purchasing goods or non-financial services

If your dispute is about purchasing goods or non-financial services see Information Sheet 161 Disputes about goods and non-financial services (INFO 161).

Seek legal advice

If you have entered into a contract with someone to supply you with goods or services, and they refuse to provide you with their ABN or their business name, you should seek legal advice to find out the process for making an application to a court for an order.

If you are unsure of how to seek legal advice, contact the Law Society in your state or territory.

Get more information

You can get more information about small business operation from the Fair Trading offices in your state or territory.

ASIC and disputes about displaying a business name

ASIC does not intervene in disputes involving a business over the provision of goods or services. Failing to receive an invoice or a receipt is a private dispute, which the parties will need to resolve themselves.

We may write to the business to remind them of their obligations to display their business name at their place of business and in their correspondence. Our aim is to get businesses to comply with their obligations, and to avoid the need for consumers or ASIC to take action. ASIC will generally only take action if we have concerns about other unlawful conduct or when the business has a history of failing to meet its obligations under the law.

ASIC does not administer ABNs and is not responsible for the registration of ABNs. A business must have an ABN or be in the process of applying for one with the Australian Business Register website before ASIC will register a business name. The Australian Tax Office has a wealth of information available to businesses and individuals about the requirements of starting a business.

Where can I get more information?

  • For information about ASIC’s role and the laws we administer.
  • Download Regulatory Guide 235 Registering your business name (RG 235).
  • Download information sheets:
    – Information Sheet 161 Disputes about goods and non-financial services (INFO 161)
    – Information Sheet 187 Disputes about similar business names (INFO 187), and
    – Information Sheet 200 Unregistered business names (INFO 200).

Information sheets provide concise guidance on a specific process or compliance issue or an overview of detailed guidance.

This information sheet was issued in February 2015.

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Last updated: 05/02/2015 12:00