What is a business name and do I need one?

A ‘business name’, sometimes known as a ‘trading name’ is a name under which a business operator conducts their business. For example, if a company is called ABC Limited, they might actually trade under the name Port Vila Bakery. Another example is a sole trader called Nelmah Smith running a plumbing company called ‘Blocked Drain Busters’.

Any business operator that is trading under a name that is not their own must register a business name with VFSC unless they fall under an exception.

You do not have to register a business name when undertaking a business when:

  • for individuals – you are using your surname with or without your first name or initials
  • for firms, partnerships or groups – you are using surnames of all partners (with or without first names or initials) and company names of all corporate partners
  • for companies – you are using the full company name (including the word Limited or Ltd).

If you do not fit within the above, you must register a business name if running a business using a name other than your actual name. You can reserve and register a business name through the Registry Services tab at the top of the page. If you trade under a business name without validly registering it, then you could be liable of a penalty of up to VT 100,000. A court can also impose further conditions.