Choosing and registering a name

Choose the name of your organisation carefully – it may be harder to change a name later than to get it right in the beginning. You must choose an available name, that nobody else has registered, and it should reflect the purpose and activities of your Not For Profit. Depending on the legal structure you choose, you may have to include particular words in the name.

Legal requirements for names

The structure you have chosen for your NFP will affect your organisation’s name. To comply with the relevant Act, you’ll need to include words in the name that reflect the type of organisation it is. The list below provides details.

  • Incorporated associations: must include 'Incorporated' or 'Inc.' at the end of the name
  • Companies limited by guarantee: must include the word 'Limited' or 'Ltd' after the name. Note: in some circumstances, companies limited by guarantee can apply for an exemption to omit the world 'Limited' or 'Ltd' if they meet the requirements
  • Co-operatives: must include the word 'Co-operative' in the name and 'Limited’ or 'Ltd' after the name
  • Indigenous organisations registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act) (Cwth): must include one of the following sets of words in the name:
    • 'Aboriginal corporation'
    • 'Torres Strait Islander corporation'
    • 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation'
    • 'Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal corporation'
    • 'Indigenous corporation' or
    • if applicable, 'registered native title body corporate' or 'RNTBC'.

Checking the name is available

Before applying for a name for your Not For Profit, you should check if it is available. This could save you time and effort. You can check whether a name is available using the ASIC free name check search or the CAV Victorian names register. 

Tip: Where a group of people are making a decision about a name for a Not For Profit, prior to registration it’s often a good idea to think of two or three names that everybody agrees would be suitable, in case your first proposed choice is not available.

Registering the name

Where you apply for the name will depend on the legal structure of the organisation. Generally, you will register the name as part of your application to register the organisation. Check the list below:

  • Incorporated associations: after checking availability, include the proposed name with your application. The application form is available from the Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) website along with other information, links and forms to help you start and register an incorporated association
  • Companies limited by guarantee: generally you would register your name when you register the company, but you can reserve a name if you want to make sure it won’t be taken by anyone else before you are ready to register. The ASIC website has some useful information about how to choose and reserve a name for a company limited by guarantee
    See Step 2: Choose a company name on the Starting a Company page on the ASIC website
  • Co-operatives: approval for a name is a part of registering a co-operative. The CAV website provides guidance on aspects of setting up a co-operative such as name, rules and disclosure statement
  • Indigenous organisations planning to register under the terms of the CATSI Act: when you apply to register an organisation with the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC), you include the proposed name of the organisation in your registration form. The ORIC website includes detailed information on the steps to Register and links to application forms and other information.
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