Other laws impacting business names

The Business Names Registration Act 2011 outlines the rules for registration of a business name. However, the use of industry and professional terms in general (not just within a business name) is also often limited by other laws. These laws may be specific to the state or territory in which you intend to operate your business.

For example, if your proposed business name includes words which indicate you are licensed in a certain trade or profession when you do not hold such a licence, you may breach the law.  

Penalties can include fines and in some instances, imprisonment. You should consider the laws applicable to your industry or profession before you register a business name.

The table below sets out examples where this may be the case:

Word or Term Limited by State or Territory Law Description
Architect In each state and territory of Australia it is a legal requirement that any person using the title ‘architect’ must be registered with the Architects’ Board in that jurisdiction.
Builder In each state and territory there are restrictions around using the title of 'builder' and/or holding yourself out to be a licensed builder. There are penalties associated with falsely claiming to be a builder when you are not licensed or registered. Each state or territory has an individual licensing authority that regulates the building profession.
Registered Professional Engineer In Queensland, a person who is not a registered professional engineer must not use the title ‘registered professional engineer'.
Surveyor In some states, you must not use the title 'licensed surveyor' without being registered under the relevant Act. 
Veterinarian Every state and territory in Australia has a Veterinary Practice Act, and each has a Veterinary Registration Board. The terms veterinary surgeon, veterinary practitioner, veterinarian, vet, animal doctor or any derivative of these terms should not be used by anyone other than a registered veterinarian. All states have penalties for persons who falsely represent themselves as veterinarians.

When starting and running a business you are responsible to ensure you have the correct licences and registrations. 

If you register a business name that could breach another law, the responsible body may advise you that you cannot use your registered business name and/or take action against you.  

ASIC will not refund the cost of registering the business name in these circumstances.

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Last updated: 30/03/2021 09:31