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didn’t realise there was another place to get a business name registered other then the ABN site.

ASIC is the only place you register a name through these days. The ABN site simply lists what businesses/people/companies are associated with ABNs. You’ll need your own ABN in order to register the business name through ASIC. The system (which has only been around since the end of May) is experiencing ‘issues’ at times, so, a number of people have complained that it’s taking too long etc.

As Wendy mentioned, you should also ensure that either of the businesses you’ve found with the same name haven’t sought trademark protection. A trademark will ‘trump’ a business name in terms of whether you can actually use the name you’ve chosen. If you commence use of a name, for the same/similar products or services to a registered trademark then you may be found to be infringing that trademark.

The thing is, theres two companies with the same name in the same industry, however.. they are in different states!

Are they actually companies, or are they business names? If they are business names, then as Kathie advised it’s likely they registered in their respective states before the national system came into place. If they are companies, is it possible they are actually affiliated with one another? E.g. different branches of the same company?

If you have trouble registering the business name due to same/similar names existing sometimes you can get around it by making changes to your business name – purely as an example – “Sydney’s Business Name” or “Business Name by Sanders” etc. (this wouldn’t necessarily avoid trademark infringement though so still check on that…)