Undesirable business names

Certain kinds of names are considered undesirable for registration, for example, because they are offensive or suggest a connection with a Government organisation that does not exist.

ASIC cannot register a business name that is undesirable unless the Applicant has first obtained consent from the Minister, or the Minister’s Delegate, to be allowed to register the undesirable name.

When is a name undesirable?

The kinds of business names that are undesirable for registration are set out in Part 3 of the Business Names Registration (Availability of Names) Determination 2015 (the Names Determination).

A business name is undesirable if the name has one or more of the following characteristics:

Offensive names

A business name is undesirable if, in the opinion of ASIC, it is likely to be offensive to:

(a)  members of the public; or

(b)  members of any section of the public.

Suggesting a connection that does not exist

A business name is also undesirable if it suggests a connection with any of the following that does not exist:

(a)  the Crown;

(b)  the Commonwealth Government;

(c)  the Government of a State or Territory;

(d)  a municipal or other local authority;

(e)  a department, authority or instrumentality of the Commonwealth Government;

(f)   a department, authority or instrumentality of the Government of a State or Territory;

(g)  the government of a foreign country;

(h)  a member of the Royal family;

(i)   the receipt of Royal Patronage;

(j)  a charitable organisation;

(k)  an ex-service personnel organisation or ex-service personnel generally;

(l)  Sir Donald Bradman;

(m)  Mary Mackillop;

(n)  the United Nations.

Suggesting members of an organisation are totally or partially incapacitated

A business name that suggests the members of an organisation are totally or partially incapacitated is undesirable if those members are not so affected.

‘Commonwealth’ or ‘Federal’

Despite the above, a business name that includes the word ‘Commonwealth’ or ‘Federal’ is not undesirable if ASIC is satisfied the word is used in a geographical context.  For example, ‘Federal Avenue Plaza’.

If ASIC is not satisfied that ‘Commonwealth’ or ‘Federal’ are used in a geographical context, the applicant may apply for Ministerial consent.

Guidelines for Ministerial consent to business names

The Minister may consent to the use of a business name that would otherwise not be available because it is undesirable. 

This power has been delegated to certain senior officers of ASIC and any applications for consent to the use of an undesirable business name should be made to ASIC.

The Guidelines for Ministerial consent to business names under the Business Names Registration Act 2011 (the Guidelines) set out the procedures to be followed and the criteria to be applied in considering applications for consent.

Select from the links below to view the criteria for undesirable names:

How to apply

When you are ready to apply for consent, email your letter of application together with any supporting documents that demonstrate how the relevant criteria have been satisfied to ASIC at bn.reviews@asic.gov.au

We expect your application to include:

  • your name and contact details;
  • the name and ABN of the proposed holder of the business name;
  • the business name you propose to register;
  • the criteria of the Guidelines that applies to your application;
  • an explanation detailing how the relevant criteria have been satisfied; and
  • supporting documents where applicable.

Specific name restrictions in other legislation

Other Commonwealth legislation also prohibits the use of words that suggest a connection with certain business without the consent of the responsible Commonwealth portfolio Minister.  For example, the Defence Regulation 2016 prohibits the use of words such as ‘Navy’ or ‘Defence Force’ in connection with a trade, business, calling or profession.

When we register a business name, we are not required to consider all other specific name restrictions.However, where a proposed business name includes a word restricted by other Commonwealth legislation, we may consider the name to be undesirable if it suggests a connection with Government that does not exist. In such cases the applicant may apply for Ministerial consent to use the name. For more information, see other laws impacting business names.

Review of decisions

A decision made by an Authorised ASIC Officer in relation to an application for Ministerial consent to the use of an otherwise undesirable name (section 27(2) of the Act), is reviewable by the Minister and the Minister's decision is reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.

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Last updated: 15/07/2020 02:50