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How to change the name of a business

Thinking up the name is the fun part, but if you’re serious about changing it, you’ll also need to do some paperwork.

Congratulations! You own your dream business and the first thing you may want to do is change the name to proudly mark your new ownership. 

Thinking up the name is the fun part, but if you’re serious about changing it, you’ll also need to do some paperwork.  

But worry not! Here’s the process broken down into 5 easy-to-follow steps: 

Step 1

Choose a name

Ok, so let’s say that you now own a café and your name is Sam and you want to change the name to reflect your ownership. 

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will only register available names – so if you saw a Sam’s Café in a different town, it might be wise not to use that. Your new business name must be ‘acceptable’ to the registrar, which means:

1.    You can’t include swearing/offensive language, which means Sam’s M***********g Café is out!
2.    You can’t suggest a connection with someone that might mislead customers – so Sam and Shane Warne’s Café might get the punters in (or not, depending on whichever day of the week it is), but it’s also out. 

A couple of other pointers:

1.    If a Sam’s Café has shut down in Victoria and you’re in New South Wales you may not be off the hook, as a name must be cancelled from the register before you can register it. 
2.    Calling your café Starbocks might be amusing, but is unlikely to work, as even some similar names can aggravate other companies and lead to litigation.

Step 2

Check if your chosen name is available

For a fee of $46.00, you can find out if someone already has a name before you try to register it

Complete Form 410.

The ASIC will confirm if the name you have chosen is available and if it’s not, why not. 

Step 3

Reserve your chosen name

Once the name has been chosen, 75% of those with ownership stakes must agree to the change, in writing. 

You will need to draw up a document called a Special Resolution.

So, if there are two or three owners/shareholders then you must all agree. If there are four of you, then only three of you need agree and if it’s just you then, unless you’re prone to indecisiveness, you’ve agreed your name. 

Step 4

Lodge your documents and pay the fee

You’ll now need to fill out Form 205 and attach the Special Resolution.  

If you file the Form 205 within 14 days of the special resolution it will cost you $382. This may sound a lot, but more fees apply if you file later than two weeks, so get it done pronto! 

File it via the ASIC website 

Step 5

Receive the thumbs up or thumbs down

If the ASIC say yes then they’ll change the register and you’ll receive a certificate with the change of name.  

If they say no – you’ll receive communication as to why. 

You won’t lose the money you paid, as you can ask ASIC for a refund or can hold onto it for your next name change. 

All forms available via the ASIC website

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Jo Thornley

About the author

Jo joined Dynamis in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.

@BusinessMaiden

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