A fundamental part of setting up a private limited company is – naming it! When you choose a company name for your business it must legal and it must be suitable.
The name you choose to brand your business cannot be the same as:
- Any existing brand or existing trade mark.
- The name of any other ‘registered’ company.
Be careful not to choose a company name ‘too similar’ to someone else’s name or trade mark. As a rule, it would mean changing your company name if they made a complaint.
In most cases, after you name a private limited company it will end as ‘Ltd’ or ‘Limited’. But, you would be able to use the Welsh equivalents if you registered the company in Wales (e.g. ‘Cyf’ or ‘Cyfyngedig’).
Note: Use the company name availability checker to carry out a search at Companies House. There are different rules and regulations on choosing a company name for sole traders and for business partnerships.
Companies House ‘Same As’ Names
A definition of ‘same as’ names includes those whereby the only difference to that of an existing name is:
- Certain types of punctuation (e.g. a hyphen, or a period).
- Certain special characters (e.g. ‘#’, ‘@’, ‘+’).
- A word or a character that has similarities in appearance or in meaning to another from the existing name.
- A word or a character used ‘commonly’ in United Kingdom company names.
Examples of ‘Same As’ Company Names:
After registering ‘Hands Limited’ as your company name, Companies House would then consider ‘Hands UK Ltd’, ‘Hand-S Limited’, and ‘Hand’s Ltd’ as similar or ‘same as’ company names.
Companies House would also reject the registration of a ‘same as’ company name unless:
- It is part of the same group as the company or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the existing name.
- It written confirmation that the company or Limited Liability Partnership has no objection to the new name.
Note: Further guidance on incorporation and names sets out the key requirements for incorporating a company in the United Kingdom.
Companies House ‘Too Like’ Names
Having a name ‘too like’ one that someone already registered means you may need to change yours. The most likely reason is if someone complains to Companies House and they agree to it.
Examples of ‘Too Like’ Company Names:
After registering ‘Easy Electrics For You Ltd’ as your company name, Companies House would then consider ‘EZ Electrix 4U Ltd’ as too similar or ‘too like’.
If it happens, Companies House would contact you about the problem. They would instruct you what to do if they think your business name is too much like another.
Other UK Company Name Rules
No matter how you choose a name for a private limited company – it must not be an offensive word or phrase!
The name(s) must not contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. Besides that, it cannot suggest a connection with government or with local authorities. Some exceptions apply for companies with permission to do so.
Using the word ‘Accredited’ in a company name would need permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Note: Check which words and expressions could imply a connection with a government department or authority.
Using Company Trading Names
You can choose to trade using a ‘business name’ instead of the registered name. But, any business name that you use must not:
- Be the same as any trade mark already in use. You may need to search for a trade mark to check.
- Contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression (unless you have permission).
- Include the words or expressions of ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’, or ‘plc’.
You would need to apply to register a trade mark to stop others from trading under the same name as the one you registered for your business. You cannot use the trade mark of another company as a ‘business name’.
Displaying Private Limited Company Names
UK law requires companies to display a name sign and include specific details in business documents. Check the rules on signs and stationery for limited companies.
Not Using ‘Limited’ in a Company Name
There are some situations when you do not have to use the word ‘limited’ in your company name. It would not be necessary for a registered charity. The same applies to a company limited by guarantee if the memorandum and articles of association say it:
- Promotes or regulates art, any profession, charity, commerce, education, religion, or science.
- Cannot pay its shareholders (e.g. through dividends).
- Requires each shareholder to contribute to company assets if it gets wound up (either):
- During their membership
- Within one (1) year of them ceasing to be a shareholder.
Registered Office Address Companies House
All official communications get sent to the registered office address of UK limited companies. This includes letters from Companies House. When choosing an address for a private limited company, it must:
- Be a ‘physical’ address located somewhere in the United Kingdom.
- Be in the same country as the one where the company was incorporated. So, a company registered in Wales must have a registered office address in Wales, for example.
Even though you can use a PO Box for a registered office address, it must include a physical address as well as a postcode. You can also use a home address or the address of the person who manages Corporation Tax for the company.
Note: The registered address you use for a company will be available for public viewing on the online register.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Limited Company Formation | A checklist of key rules for setting up a private limited company in UK.
Appoint a Director and Secretary | The legal process of appointing directors and a company secretary.