Click here for Foreign Companies Registering an Australian domain name

There different ways of starting a new business and this article is primarily intended to help you understand how you can start a new business and register a domain name. The domain name is important part of starting a new business and ideally you would want to register both the and .com extensions of your company or product name. This can be increasingly difficult to acquire, as many .com domains have already been registered because there are no eligibility requirements for registering a .com domain. The common question is, should I register a domain name first or register my business name with the Office of Fair Trading? If you could register your business name and domain name simultaneously, that would be the perfect solution but  unfortunately, you cannot.

Using your legal name as a business name


If  you are starting a new business, you may want to use your name as a business name and operate as a sole trader. This is the simplest business structure that does not require you to register a business name. eg. Tom Jones Consulting and order the corresponding domain name, you can either use your ABN number or register a BN certificate.

To apply for an ABN, go to 

There is no fee to register an ABN with the Australian Taxation Office but it can take a few weeks for your application to be processed. 

Once you have an ABN issued by the ATO to your business name, you can then register your .

Another way to acquire a or domain name without registering an ABN is to register a business name with the Office of Fair Trading in your State. You are able to register a, domain name with a BN certificate alone.

Choosing a unique business name

Most new businesses will want to use a unique business or trading name. In the new world created by the Internet, choosing the right company or product name is a very important decision. It can determine both your business success and help you avoid costly legally hassles, when another business decides that your chosen name is infringing on their intellectual property, trademark or is too similar to their company name. Do some research and choose a unique trading name.

Research your proposed trading name online by using search engines but also you can search ASIC database for trading names used in Australia.

Search Australian Business Names

If you find that your proposed company name is not registered by another party or not similar to any other registered company or business name, then you should then go to and type in the proposed company name and look at the search results. Is there an existing company that has your proposed name or something confusingly similar? If the answer to this is YES, then you may want to consider choosing another name but if the answer is NO, then you should attempt to register without delay the .com version of your business name.

There are no eligibility requirements for .com domains, so if your domain name is available, register it and register the domain later. 

Why register the .com of your proposed business name

.com domains are open registrations, so it is best to register the corresponding .com domain to the you wish to register.  Although, it may happen that ASIC or The Office of Fair Trading will not approve your proposed business name, it is a small amount of money to spend to secure a key asset from being registered by another party.

After you have registered the .com version of your proposed business name, you need to decide whether you will be incorporating a company or organisation or if you will be simply registering a business name at the Fair Trading Office in your Australian State or Territory.

Register a Business Name or Incorporate a Company?

If you choose to register a business name and not incorporate a company, it does not protect your business name from being used in another Australian State or Territory. Therefore, despite the additional cost, it is often better to register an Australian company name with ASIC.

"Registration or use of a business name:

  • does not create a legal entity (only registering a company creates a legal entity) and
  • does not allow the use of privileges to which a company is entitled, such as a corporate tax rate or limited liability.

A business name has no legal status. If a company carries on a business in a name that is different to its company name, it must register the business name with the appropriate State/Territory authority. While the requirement to register business names is not under the Act, business names are still recorded by ASIC's National Names Index, and the register against which proposed new company names are checked includes business names.

Incorporating a Company or Organisation

To incorporate a company or organisation, you can either fill in the paperwork and instructions provided by ASIC or you can hire a lawyer or accountant to help you with the paperwork or you can use an online services.

Why register a AU domain name ?

International trade has changed the way trade is governed and to protect one's trademarks and to reserve your business name for trading in Australia, many companies choose to register domain names in different countries. Although it doesn't provide complete protection against individuals who may use your company name or trademark in Australia, it does offer a relatively inexpensive way of protecting a key asset, your domain name in the .au domain extension. After all, if you own your domain name, nobody else does !

Building a .au domain name will be beneficial if you wish to appear in local search results in Australia. Examples of Australian search engines include; and

Or you can use domain name forwarding to redirect your .au domain to your main website. Generally, it is better to use a .com domain name if you want to appeal to a global audience and a domain name if your market is in Australia.

Foreign company registering AU domains

If you are a foreign company or individual wanting to register an Australian domain name to do business in Australia, you can register a or with an ABN (Australian Business Number), ACN (Australian Company Number), ARBN, trademark number OR trademark application number. 

If you do not intend to have an Australian office, then you have the option to apply for an Australian trademark or register an ARBN number and use one of these numbers to register an Australian domain name.

How do I register an Australian domain name with a trademark?

If you are the legal owner of an Australian trademark or you have an application pending for an Australian trademark, the trademark number OR trademark application number will allow you to meet the requirements to register an Australian domain name as a foreign company. If you have registered or are registering under the Madrid Protocol, you will also be eligible for an Australian domain name.

Thanks to the Madrid System for International Registration of Marks, a trademark owner is offered the possibility to have a trademark protected in several countries within the Madrid Union of countries by simply filing one application directly with their own national or regional trademark office, or designating further countries subsequently. The Madrid System has been around for over a century and functions under the original 1891 Madrid Agreement and the more recent 1989 Madrid Protocol.

Australia is a member of the Madrid Union.   s a member, a foreign trademark owner can designate Australia in their international applications, provided the trademark is registered in a country that is part of the Madrid Union.

Please contact us if you require a referral to register an Australian trademark, who will manage the entire process on your behalf and you will simply supply them with a word or logo and nominated goods and services and you will be provided with timely, high quality and cost effective advice.

After your trademark application has been filed, you will receive a trademark application number and you can then click the register/transfer link at the top of the page , and you will choose Pending TM Owner  and  enter your TM application number in the field. If you already have an Australian trademark registered then choose the option of TM Owner. The system will most likely reject the application and request more details but don't be concerned, we will sort it out for you.

Do email with the details of your trademark number or trademark filing number, so that we can follow up the application for domain registration for you.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

How do I register an Australian domain name as a foreign company?

In order to register an Australian domain name, you need to obtain a ABRN number from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission or ASIC. To do this you will need to appoint a local agent (a person that lives permanently in Australia), to lodge and receive company documents

Under s.601CJ - Liability of Local Agent:

A local agent of a registered foreign company: 
(a) is answerable for the doing of all acts, matters and things that the foreign company is required by or under the Act to do; and

(b) is personally liable to a penalty imposed on the foreign company for a contravention of the Act if a court or tribunal hearing the matter is satisfied that the local agentshould be so liable.

You then need to complete the Application to Register as a Foreign company. and produce documentation before you will be granted an ABRN. 

After your ABRN has been approved

You can then visit go to register your Australian domain name and register your domain name.