Can I change a company name?

Can I change a company name?

Quick Answer

The name of your limited company can be changed at Companies House at any time if the directors or shareholders approve.

You can change a company name any time after incorporation. This can be done in one of two ways. The members (shareholders or guarantors) can pass a special resolution, or the directors can vote to change it without the members’ approval. The latter is only possible if the director are granted this power in the articles of association.

The first thing you should do is check the articles to see which protocol is required. When a new name has been chosen, you must apply to Companies House and wait for their approval before using it. If it contains any ‘sensitive’ words or expressions, you will have to provide supporting documentation.

It is necessary to go through the official name-change procedure even if you’re simply correcting a spelling error or changing a symbol or punctuation mark.

Change of company name by members

If you wish to change a company name by special resolution, a 75% majority vote of the members will be required. A resolution can be passed at a general meeting, but this is not always necessary. It is possible to pass a written resolution instead.

To determine whether a majority vote has been achieved, you must count the number of voting shares in favour of the change, rather than the number of shareholders who favour the change. This is because shareholders can hold multiple shares, each of which may carry one or more votes. Some shares may be non-voting.

If a resolution is passed, the company director should provide each member with written confirmation of the decision. The resolution should be delivered to Companies with Form NM01 within 15 days of being passed.

Alternatively, Rapid Formations customers can use our free online Admin Portal. Login to your client account, enter the required information, upload a copy of the resolution and pay the required fee. These details will be delivered electronically to Companies House.

Change of company name by directors

If the directors are allowed to change the name of the company without consulting the shareholders, they should complete Form NM04 and submit it to Companies House with the appropriate fee. You can file this form by post or online via WebFiling. Alternatively, you can use our free online Admin Portal.

When can I start using a new company name?

Not until it has been approved by Companies House. They will inform you when this happens and provide a ‘Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name’ as confirmation. You can start using it as soon as you receive this document.

What is a certificate of name change?

Companies House will issue a Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name to confirm the change and the date it takes effect. This should be kept at your registered office or SAIL address for inspection purposes. Your original company formation details will remain the same (e.g. date of incorporation, registration number, etc), so you must retain a copy of your original certificate of incorporation. The new one is not a replacement, it just confirms the change.

Changing a company name on a business bank account

If you change your company name, you will have to update your business bank accounts and finance agreements. Your firm is an individual in the eyes of the law, so the name on all contracts and agreements must match the one that is registered at Companies House and displayed on public record.

To change this information on your business bank account(s), you will have to request the relevant form from your bank and provide a copy of the certificate. You may be able to complete the changes online, but you should contact your bank in the first instance to determine the correct procedure.

Updating company stationery and signage

When a change of name has been approved, you can continue to use the old one on stationery, websites and signage for a further 14 days. After this time, you must update everything that bears the name of your business.

Additional requirements:

  • Updating the name and bank account title with HMRC.
  • Notifying members, clients, suppliers, service providers and other business contacts.
  • Making changes to visual and audio advertisements.
  • Registering a new domain.
  • Updating statutory records and registers.

The memorandum and articles of association do not have to be updated. These documents will remain in their original format.

16 Comments

  1. Hi, If I own two companies, one trading one dormant, can I change the name of the trading one to that of the dormant company? In essence changing the name of the active company and only having one company going forward?

    • Hi Lee

      You can change the name of your company at any time. You would not be able to have 2 companies which had the same name so you would either need to dissolve the non-trading company (which takes around 3 months to complete and then when this is done change the name, or, if you want to change the name of the trading company now, you could change the name of the dormant company to a separate name (anything you want) and then change the name of the trading company to the name you want now and then close the dormant company after 3 months as you cannot dissolve a company within 3 months of a name change. We offer a change of company name service so please see the following link for further information https://www.rapidformations.co.uk/company-name-change/

  2. Do I separately inform to VAT department that we changed company name or it is not required to inform them???

  3. Hi

    I have a limited company which has been dormant since 2011, Im looking to start using the limited company asap. At the time of incorpation my chosen name wasnt available so i had to add (w.mids). ive now checked & the original company name i wanted is showing as been available as the company was dissolved in 2014. Can i now change the company name getting rid of (w.mids). If i change will it have an negative impact due to already been dissolved once before. Thanks

    • Dear Lee
      Thank you for your message.
      Unfortunately we are not professional advisors and cannot explain how to inform HMRC of changes in your circumstances. If you had been required by HMRC to file a Personal Tax Return then in the last return you file you should denote when you stopped working for the limited company so your Personal Tax Return would show that you are no longer working.
      Best regards,
      Rapid Formations Team

  4. After changing a company name do invoice numbers have to be started from scratch again

    • Dear Sylvia,
      Thank you for your message.
      We are not accountants but would see no need to change the invoice numbering as the company has not changed, merely the name of the company.
      Best regards,
      Rapid Formations Team

  5. Hi Rachel – great article, thanks!

    Are you able to tell me (roughly) how long it takes for a name change to be approved by Companies House once lodged online by the directors?

    Cheers,

    Caroline

    • Dear Caroline,
      Name changes submitted online are usually approved within 1-2 working days. Companies House do offer a same day change of name service at a cost of £30 if you need the change made more quickly.
      Best regards

  6. After a name change, do you have to issue new share certificates?

    • Dear Richard,
      Thank you for your message.
      You do not need to issue new share certificates. The notification of the name change will show on the Companies House record and can be referred to should the difference in name ever be questioned.
      Best regards,
      Rapid Formations Team

  7. If a limited company purely has it’s name changed is it still liable for debts and can it be pursued in the courts for agreements in the previous name?

    • Dear Mike,
      Thank you for your message. Yes this is the case. A change of name has not bearing on liability or ownership of a limited company.
      Best regards,
      Rapid Formations Team

  8. Re: Changing a Company name:
    How soon can some one else incorporate using the old name?

    • Hi Grant,

      An old company name can be registered by another company as soon as the change is approved by Companies House and available on the public register – this will usually be within 24 hours, but it can take longer in some cases.

      Best wishes,

      Rachel Craig

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