What is a business name and do I need one?
A ‘business name’, sometimes known as a ‘trading name’ is the name a business operator uses for their business. For example, if a company is called ABC Limited, they might actually trade under the name Auki Bakery.
Another example is a sole trader called Veronica Wa’ahero running a plumbing business called ‘Blocked Drain Busters’.
Any business operator that is trading under a name that is not their own must register a business name with Company Haus 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).
- For charitable trusts or co-operative societies – you are using the full name as registered under the relevant law.
Otherwise, you must register a business name if you are running a business using a name other than your actual name.
You can register a business name online through the www.solomonbusinessregistry.gov.sb.
If you trade under a business name without validly registering it, then you could be liable to pay a penalty of up to SBD 5,000, or up to 6 months imprisonment, or both.
Why have business names?
Business names are often used to help businesses inform the public about what they do or for marketing purposes.
It is also often used by business operators that have more than one business, and they wish to make it easier for people to differentiate between them.
Whether you wish to use a business name will depend on your individual circumstances.
What business names can you use?
Most business names can be used in Solomon Islands. However, there are some exceptions for names that cannot be used.
A proposed business name will be refused if it is the same or almost the same as
- Another registered business name or another business name removed in the last 6 months;
- The name of another body corporate (such as a company, co-operative society, or charitable trust);
- A name of a charitable trust or co-operative society which is the subject of an application.
Other grounds for refusal are where the proposed name:
- suggests a connection with the Crown or royalty, the government or other public bodies;
- appears to go against another law;
- appears to infringe another person’s intellectual property (such as a trade mark)
- the Registrar believes it is likely to mislead, deceive or be offensive to the public.
Registering a business name
Registering a business name is simple and can be done easily online.
The fee for registering a business name is SBD 150. Fees can be paid at the Treasury Counter of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
Obligations for business name holders
If you use a business name, then there are a number of simple things that you need to do. You must:
- display your business name certificate at the place of business in a noticeable position,
- put your business name on written documents associated with the business (e.g. invoices, receipts, demands for payments), and
- file a return for your registration every two years.
Business Name Return
Submitting your business name return is important so that your details are up to date and Company Haus knows that you are still trading under a business name. It provides you with further protection against others who may attempt to trade using your business’ goodwill and reputation. It also means that older names that are not being used anymore can be used by new businesses.
There is no fee, and it is simply a matter of confirming your details are unchanged online, or making any changes online. If you have no access to a computer, you can submit your return using a paper form.
You are required to provide a return for your business name every two years.
When you register your business name, you are should provide an email address. You will receive email reminders to this address in the lead up to your return being due. The reminder will include a link to the Company Haus website which will lead you through the steps required to complete your return.
Late return and Removal of Business Names
If you fail to file your return during the filing month, you commit an offence, which has a penalty of SBD 1,000. You will receive reminders by email that your return is overdue. If you fail to file a return within 6 months of the due date, the registrar is allowed to remove your registration from the register.
In order to restore your business name to the register, you must complete the restoration process online (or by paper form if you have no internet access), and pay the restoration fee of SBD 150.
I have an existing business name, do I need to do anything?
Every existing business name owner should do a free search of the register to confirm that their business name is currently on the register. It is also strongly recommended you set up an account (unless you already have an account with CompanyHaus). You must then request authority over the business name registration.
This is a simple process.
Step 1: Create an account or log into your Company Haus account.
Step 2: Search for your business name and click on ‘request authority by clicking here’
Step 3: Indicate if you are an owner or agent.
Step 4: Owners must declare they are an owner of the business name, agents must upload a letter of authorization from a business name owner. Confirm that you’re legal entitled to filed documents. Click Submit.
Company Haus will then review your request and you will receive confirmation of your authority. Then you will be able to manage the registration.