Company name availability

This is Information Sheet 71 (INFO 71). It explains what you should consider when choosing a company name. You cannot register a name that is identical to an existing name and some terms are restricted.

A company's name cannot be identical to an existing name

You can only use a name that is not identical to an existing company or business. Use our check name availability search to see if the name you want is available. If a business has been cancelled within the previous 6 months, the name may not be available.

If you own an identical name, you may be able to register the name for the company in some cases:

Where the business name holder is...

the name is only available to the proposed company if...

an individual

that individual is a proposed company director or member

a company

that same company is a proposed member

a partnership or joint venture

each of the partners is a proposed company director or member

a trust

each of the trustees is a proposed company director or member, and you have provided ASIC with a copy of the trust deed

You can only use certain characters in a company's name

The following characters are accepted:
















" "

















Some terms are restricted

Some words and phrases cannot be used without the approval of a government minister. Some examples include:

  • 'building society'
  • 'trust'
  • 'university'
  • 'chamber of commerce'

You can't use words that could mislead people about a company's activities. This includes associations with Australian government, the Royal Family, or any ex-servicemen's organisations.

We may also refuse a name if it's considered offensive or suggests illegal activity.

See Restricted words in company and body corporate names to learn more about how you can apply for consent to use restricted words and phrases.

Reserving a company name

If you aren't ready to register your company but want to make sure a name is available, you can apply to reserve it.

If we approve your application, we will reserve the name for two months. If you wish to extend this period, you'll need to apply to reserve the name again.

We will not reserve a name for a long period as this may prevent other people from using the name legitimately.

Existing trademarks or names that could impact your name

Even if we reserve or register a name for you, a company with a similar name or trade mark can take action against you. It is your responsibility to be aware of any similar names or trade marks that may affect your name. Visit the IP Australia website to search for existing trademarks.

A company's name must show its legal status

A company must show the liability of its members and status in its name. For example: 

  • if a company's members' liability is limited to the amount unpaid on their shares, the name must end with 'Proprietary Limited'
  • if the members' liability is unlimited, the company name must end with 'Proprietary'.

Below is a list of approved abbreviations that can be used in a company's name:

Full word


No Liability






Related links

Important notice

Please note that this information sheet is a summary giving you basic information about a particular topic. It does not cover the whole of the relevant law regarding that topic, and it is not a substitute for professional advice. We encourage you to seek your own professional advice to find out how the applicable laws apply to you, as it is your responsibility to determine your obligations.

You should also note that because this information sheet avoids legal language wherever possible, it might include some generalisations about the application of the law. Some provisions of the law referred to have exceptions or important qualifications. In most cases, your particular circumstances must be taken into account when determining how the law applies to you.

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

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Last updated: 15/10/2014 12:00