Business names

Choosing a company name for a new limited company

It is not as easy as it seems, choosing a company name. There are restrictions on the choice of registered name that a company may use. A company name must also include an appropriate ending (for example, Limited, PLC, C.I.C, and so on). Companies House will refuse registration of any unacceptable name.

There are different rules for sole traders and business partnerships.

If you have purchased a new company with an existing name, then you may need to change the company name. Company names can usually be changed by passing a special resolution.

Four step guide

As a quick guide, follow this simple four step process when deciding what to call your business:

1. Search for the same or similar company names already registered at Companies House.

2. Check that you have not chosen a name containing a prohibited term.

3. Check the Trade Mark register that your name does not conflict with a registered trade mark.

4. Search Google to see if there is any unregistered trade marks trading in your locality. This is because if your name is too similar to another company’s name or trade mark you may have to change it if that business makes a complaint.

Trading names

You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’. Business names must not include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’.

Displaying your name

There are rules you must follow about displaying your company name. For more information see the detailed guide on the Companies House website.

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