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Can I choose any company name that I want?

You can choose any company name that you want, on condition that it meets certain requirements set out in the Companies Act 2006 and supplementary regulations. Company name rules are not excessively limiting, but you cannot choose a name that is the same as another company’s name, nor one that is offensive or potentially misleading in any way.

What are the rules when choosing a company name?

The Companies Act 2006 and supplementary regulations set out the rules by which you must adhere when choosing a company name. You must:

  • choose a name that is unique (not the ‘same as’ or very similar to another company name)
  • not include any offensive words
  • not include ‘sensitive’ or restricted words or expressions (i.e., those which could mislead or harm), unless authorised by specified bodies
  • include the word ‘Limited’ (or ‘Ltd) at the end, unless exempt
  • not infringe on any existing trade mark

You can use the free company name check on our homepage to find out if a company name is available and/or if it contains any sensitive or restricted words.

Can I use my own name as a company name?

You can use your own name as a company name if it is available to register. This could be beneficial for SEO (search engine optimisation) and branding purposes, especially if you have an unusual name and/or an established reputation that would strengthen your company’s credibility and professional image.

Can I register a company name without setting up a company?

It is not possible to register a company name without setting up a company. However, if you simply want to protect a company name but have no intention of trading, you can register a company and make it dormant as soon as it’s incorporated. By doing so, no other company can be registered with the same name.

Is my company name protected?

Registering a company will protect your company name insofar as no other company will be able to register the same name. However, this will not prohibit others from using it as a trading name or registering it as a domain name or trade mark. The most effective way to fully protect your company name is to register a company and also register it as a domain name and trade mark.

Can I register my company name as a trade mark?

Registering a company name as a trade mark (and a domain name) is the most effective way to protect the name and prohibit others from using it. However, registering a name at Companies House does not automatically mean that the name will be available to register as a trade mark. You should check the trade mark database to determine if your company name is available to register as a trade mark.

What’s the difference between a company name and a business/trading name?

A company name is the official, legal name under which a company is registered. A business/trading name refers to the name of an unincorporated business (e.g., sole trader, ordinary partnership) or a alternative name that a company may decide to use for day-to-day trading activities.

Can I change my company name?

You can change your company name after incorporation by passing a special resolution of the members or directors. The exact means by which a company name can be changed will be set out in your articles of association, so you must check this first to determine whether members or directors are required to authorise a change of company name.

How do I change a company name?

Upon changing the company name by resolution of the members or directors, you must give notice to Companies House on form NM01 (members’ resolution), form NM04 (directors’ resolution), or by using Rapid Formations Change of Company Name Service. The proposed name will not take effect until it has been approved at Companies House.

You can deliver form NM01 and a copy of the resolution online (£8 fee) or by post (£10 fee). Form NM04 and the supporting resolution must be delivered by post, which costs £10.

If the proposed company name contains any sensitive or restricted words or expressions, you must also complete form NM06 to confirm that you’ve sought consent from a government department or other specified body to use sensitive or restricted words in the proposed company name.

What are sensitive words and expressions in company names?

Sensitive words and expressions are terms that must be approved by a specified body before they may be used in company names and business names. This is because their use has the potential to offend, hurt, mislead, or confuse the public if they are inappropriately included in company or business names. A full list of sensitive words and expressions is available from Companies House.

What words cannot be used in a company name?

There are many words that cannot be used in a company name, or words that you must seek permission to use, due to their potential to offend, hurt, mislead, or confuse the public. Companies House provides a full list of sensitive and restricted words (and the specified bodies whose views must be sought), which you should review before choosing a company name.

How do I find out if a company name is available?

If you would like to find out if a company name is available, you can use the free company name check on our homepage. Any name that you enter will be cross-referenced against the Companies House official register of company names to determine whether it’s available to register or already in use by another company. The company name search will also tell you if the name contains any sensitive or restricted words.

What happens if my company name is rejected?

Occasionally, Companies House will reject a company name. There are many reasons why a company name may be rejected, but it is relatively easy to determine the issue and resubmit the application with an amended or completely different name. If you register a company through Rapid Formations, your application will be resubmitted for no additional charge, usually on the same day.

Does a company name have to include LIMITED or LTD at the end?

Every limited company that is formed in the UK must include LIMITED (or the abbreviation LTD) at the end of their registered name, with the exception of limited by guarantee companies who meet certain conditions and provide evidence of the right to exemption.

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