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How to look up Business Registration and Verify Genuine Companies

In today’s business landscape, the importance of verifying business registration cannot be overstated. Whether you’re seeking a trustworthy partner or looking to make a purchase from a new merchant, ensuring that a company is genuine, registered, and compliant with regulations is essential for avoiding scams and protecting your interests. So, how can you be sure that the businesses you interact with are legitimate?

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the ins and outs of business registration in Australia, including the role of Australian Business Numbers (ABNs), business names, and proprietary limited companies. We’ll also explore the key steps for verifying genuine businesses, protecting yourself from fake businesses, and leveraging government and industry resources to find trustworthy companies. Let’s embark on this crucial journey to ensure your business interactions are secure and reliable.


  1. Understanding Business Registration in Australia

  2. Verifying Genuine Businesses

  3. Protecting Yourself from Fake Businesses

  4. Leveraging Government and Industry Resources

  5. Summary

  6. Frequently Asked Questions

Key Takeaways

  • Verify the legitimacy of businesses by confirming their registration details, evaluating online presence and inspecting permits/licences.

  • Utilise resources such as ABN Lookup & ASIC Connect to verify business’ registration details.

  • Recognise warning signs & report suspicious activity to protect from fake businesses.

Understanding Business Registration in Australia

Understanding the complexities of business registration in Australia can be challenging, but with the correct information, it becomes simpler. Knowledge of business registration and its various types is beneficial for both business owners and customers as it helps confirm the legitimacy and compliance of companies.

In Australia, there are three key components to business registration: Australian Business Numbers (ABNs), business names, and proprietary limited companies. Each serves a unique purpose in identifying and registering a business, allowing for transparent and trustworthy business interactions. We will examine these fundamental elements of business registration in more depth.

Australian Business Number (ABN)

An Australian Business Number (ABN) serves as a key identifier for Australian businesses, supplying necessary details for registration. ABN Lookup is a useful platform that lets users:

  • Search and validate the ABN of Australian businesses

  • Confirm the registration and legitimacy of the entity

  • Access publicly available business information provided by the government, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

Keeping ABN details up to date is equally important for businesses. Updating the ABN details can be done by accessing the abr.gov.au website. This ensures that the information available to the public through ABN Lookup is accurate and current, allowing customers and partners to verify the legitimacy of a business with confidence.

Business Names

For Australian businesses, registering a business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is a significant step. This organisation is responsible for the oversight and regulation of business registration in Australia, including the registration of business names and public companies.

To register a business name with ASIC, you can:

  1. Obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN)

  2. Register your business name online through the Business Registration Service

  3. Provide the necessary business information

It is also important to confirm the authenticity of a business name. ASIC Connect is a helpful platform that enables you to verify the authenticity and availability of a business name by searching the business name on the ASIC website. By utilising the ‘Search ASIC’s registers’ feature on the ASIC website, you can find business information regarding companies, business names, persons, lodged documents, and more. This ensures that the business you’re dealing with is genuine and properly registered.

Proprietary Limited Companies

Proprietary limited companies are a type of business structure in Australia, typically utilised by small business owners and distinct from public companies. These private entities do not offer their shares to the general public and are limited to a maximum of fifty shareholders. Establishing a proprietary limited company requires a director identification number (director ID), selecting a company name, determining the company’s operations, having at least one director who is a resident of Australia, and registering with ASIC.

The ACNC register is a valuable resource for information on proprietary limited companies. It is a register of charities, not-for-profit organisations, and public companies in Australia registered as charities. By accessing this register, you can verify the legitimacy of a proprietary limited company and ensure that it is compliant with the necessary regulations.

Verifying Genuine Businesses

Verifying the authenticity of businesses is paramount. Whether you’re a customer or business partner, you need to confirm that you’re interacting with legitimate, registered, and dependable companies. So, how can you verify the authenticity of a business?

Three fundamental steps to authenticate businesses include checking business registration details, evaluating online presence, and examining permits and licenses. These steps offer insights into the business’s authenticity, helping you make decisions based on reliable information and safeguard your interests. Let’s explore these steps in more detail.

Checking Business Registration Details

Online tools like ABN Lookup and ASIC Connect are invaluable for verifying a business’s registration details, including their ABN, ACN, and business name. Utilising these resources allows access to necessary business information, confirming the authenticity and registration of the company you’re interacting with. This is a critical step in safeguarding your interests and avoiding scams.

Checking registration details on ASIC Connect is a simple process. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your account (or create one).

  2. Select the ‘Licences and Registrations’ tab.

  3. Enter the business name you wish to search.

  4. Review the registration details provided, including the business name holder and their ABN.

This ensures that you’re dealing with a genuine and compliant business.

Assessing Online Presence

A business’s online presence is another crucial aspect to consider when verifying its legitimacy. Here are some indicators of a trustworthy business:

  • A professional and well-maintained website

  • A secure domain

  • A detailed privacy policy

  • Online reviews on multiple platforms

Evaluating these factors can give you insights into the company’s credibility and reliability.

To assess a business’s online presence, start by examining their website for professional design, clear and accurate information, and a positive user experience. Additionally, consider the company’s domain and whether it is secure, as well as their privacy policy, which should outline how the business collects, processes, and protects customer data. Finally, examine online reviews on various platforms, being mindful of the possibility of counterfeit reviews.

Investigating Permits and Licences

Another important step in verifying a business’s authenticity is investigating the required permits and licenses. This includes ensuring that the company has the required industry-specific licenses, such as those for construction, real estate, or hospitality, as well as any additional permits or licenses needed for their operations. Verifying that a business has the proper permits and licenses protects your interests and ensures that the company is operating legally.

To investigate a business’s permits and licenses, reach out to the applicable registration or licensing authority, or consult business.gov.au for a directory of business licenses and permits. Additionally, consider whether the business is a member of any professional or industry associations, as this can indicate their standing within their respective fields.

Protecting Yourself from Fake Businesses

Fake businesses present a considerable risk to unsuspecting customers and partners. By taking steps to authenticate a business, you can guard against potential scams and confirm you’re dealing with authentic companies. So, how can you protect yourself from fake businesses?

Two key strategies for safeguarding against fake businesses are recognising warning signs and reporting any suspicious activities. Being able to identify common indicators of fraudulent business practices and taking action to report such activities can help prevent others from falling victim to scams. Let’s discuss how to recognise red flags and report suspicious activity.

Recognising Red Flags

Being aware of common red flags can help you protect yourself from fake businesses. Some red flags include:

  • Requests for unusual payment methods (such as wire transfers, prepaid cards, or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin)

  • Lack of a physical address

  • Poor-quality websites

Recognising these warning signs can help avoid engagement with potentially fraudulent businesses and protect your interests.

To further protect yourself, be wary of counterfeit online reviews, as they can be used to create a false sense of legitimacy for fake businesses. Additionally, ensure that a company’s privacy policy is detailed and transparent, outlining how they collect, process, and protect customer data. By being vigilant and recognising red flags, you can steer clear of fake businesses and scams.

Reporting Suspicious Activity

Reporting suspicious businesses to the appropriate authorities, such as the ACCC or ASIC, is vital in protecting others from potential scams. By taking action and reporting your concerns, you can help prevent others from falling victim to fraudulent businesses and contribute to a safer business environment.

To report suspicious business activity to the ACCC in Australia, complete the form on the ACCC website, providing details about the issue. If you suspect fraud or corruption relating to the ACCC, you can email [email protected].

To report a suspicious business to ASIC in Australia, follow these steps:

  1. Go to ASIC’s website.

  2. Find the online misconduct reporting form.

  3. Fill out the form with the necessary information.

  4. Submit the form.

Reporting suspicious activity helps protect the business community from scams.

Leveraging Government and Industry Resources

Government and industry resources can be invaluable for identifying trustworthy businesses and verifying their authenticity. These resources provide essential information and support to help you navigate the business landscape and make informed decisions about the companies you interact with.

This section will guide you on how to use government and industry resources, like the Australian Government Business Registration Service and ASIC, to identify reliable businesses and confirm their authenticity. By taking advantage of these resources, you can ensure that your business interactions are secure and trustworthy.

Government Agencies and Services

Government agencies and services play a vital role in verifying the legitimacy of businesses in Australia. The Australian Government Business Registration Service is a single platform where Australian businesses can apply for relevant business and tax registrations. By using this service, you can access essential business registration information and confirm that the company you’re dealing with is genuine and compliant.

ASIC, another government agency, is responsible for regulating and overseeing business registration in Australia, ensuring that businesses adhere to the pertinent regulations and provide a transparent and equitable marketplace for businesses and consumers. By accessing ASIC’s database through their Organisations and Business Names search tool, you can find information on business registrations and verify the legitimacy of a business.

Industry Associations and Professional Bodies

Consulting industry associations and professional bodies can help confirm a business’s membership and standing within their respective fields. These organisations provide valuable information on:

  • industry standards

  • best practices

  • networking opportunities

  • training and professional development

  • advocacy and representation

  • access to industry-specific information and resources.

To verify a business’s membership with an industry association or professional body, you can visit the website of the relevant association or body and search for a membership directory or list of registered members. If the business is listed in the directory, this confirms their membership and indicates their commitment to maintaining the standards set by the association or body.

Using the resources offered by industry associations and professional bodies can help ascertain that the businesses you interact with are credible and trustworthy.


In conclusion, verifying the legitimacy of businesses is crucial for protecting your interests and ensuring secure interactions in today’s business landscape. By understanding the importance of business registration in Australia, recognising red flags, and leveraging government and industry resources, you can make informed decisions and avoid scams.

Don’t leave your business interactions to chance – take control and verify the legitimacy of the companies you deal with. Armed with the knowledge and resources provided in this guide, you can confidently navigate the world of business registration and safeguard your interests.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the business lookup or registration process, get in touch with the Sleek team today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is business registration the same as ABN?

Business registration and ABN are not the same, but they are related as an ABN is often required to run a business in Australia. Additionally, multiple registered business names can link to the same ABN if the activities are the same.

Do I need to register my small business Australia?

You need to register your company with the Australian Government, get an ACN and consider any specific registrations, licences or permits needed for your business structure and location.

How much does it cost to register a business Australia?

Registering a business name in Australia costs $42 for 1 year or $98 for 3 years, while registering an Australian company can cost up to $576. More information about current fees can be found on the ASIC website.

Do I need to register a business name in WA?

If you want to trade using a different name, then you will need to register this as a business name. Alternatively, if you intend to operate under a company business structure, your company name must be registered with ASIC. Therefore, it is necessary to register a business name in WA.

How do you check if a business is registered in Australia?

To check if a business is registered in Australia, visit ASIC’s website to search its name register. Additionally, you can use the ‘Organisations and Business Names’ search on ASIC Connect or check business.gov.au for a list of licences and permits applicable to the business.

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Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended for general informational purposes only and may not be specifically relevant to everyone’s personal situation. It should not be considered financial advice or a substitute for professional tax or accounting advice. Each individual’s circumstances are unique, and laws can vary. For tailored advice, please consult a qualified professional. Contact Sleek for further information on how we can help you.

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