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Company names
Company name must indicate its legal status
A company name must indicate the company's legal status. A proprietary company must include the word 'Proprietary' or the abbreviation 'Pty' in its name.

A company must also indicate the liability of its members in its name:
  • if the liability is limited, the company name must end with the word 'Limited' or the abbreviation 'Ltd'
  • if there is no liability, the company must end its name with the words 'No liability' or the abbreviation 'N.L.'.
However liability doesn't have to be shown if we have given the company an exemption under section 150 of the Act. We only give this exemption when the company has been formed for non-commercial objectives, such as a charity or benevolent organisation.

What names can and can't be chosen
You can only choose a company name that is not already registered to a company or business. Also there is a list of words that you cannot use without special approval.

You can search the National Names Index on our website at The index lists all Australian company and business names. You can also use our Identical Names Check facility to check whether your proposed name is identical to another name already registered. A search of company and business names can also be carried out at any ASIC Service Centre.

Certain words and phrases cannot be used in company names without the approval of a specified Minister or Government agency, for example words such as 'building society', 'trust', 'university', 'chamber of commerce' and 'chartered', as well as words suggesting a misleading connection with Government, the 'Royal Family' or an ex-servicemen's organisation. These restrictions make sure that a company's name does not mislead people about its activities. This list is in Schedule 6 of the Corporation Regulations .

ASIC may refuse to register certain names if they are offensive or suggestive of illegal activity.

You may also need to consider if your proposed name is similar or identical to any registered or pending trademarks. Check the IP Australia website to find out.

Using the ACN as a name
It is not necessary to give a company a name. If you prefer, the name of the company on registration can be its Australian Company Number (ACN), which we give a company when we register it.

When you apply to register the company you do not need to nominate a name. Instead, tick the appropriate boxes on the form.

Possible problems with similar names
Even if ASIC reserves or registers a name, a person or corporation with a similar registered name may still take action against you.

It is entirely your responsibility to be aware of any problems that might arise from names already registered which are similar to, or likely to be confused with, the name you register.

Once you have selected a name, you can then proceed to complete the Form 201 to apply to register the company. If you are not yet ready to register the company, but want to make sure the name is still available when you do, then you can reserve that name.

© Australian Securities & Investments Commission. Reproduced with permission.

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