When incorporating a new, private limited company choosing the right name is an important step. Unfortunately, it is not always as simple as it seems as there are a number of restrictions which may prevent you from using the name that you want. Before expending too much time thinking up your perfect company name, read our quick guide below to ensure you don’t fall at the first hurdle...

  • Check the name doesn’t already exist or is a ‘same as’ name

A simple search at the following Companies House page will reveal whether a certain company name is already registered.

The search also helpfully identifies whether the name is too similar to an existing name (a ‘same as’ name). If you choose a ‘same as’ name, the other party may make a complaint and you could be forced to change the name.

The only situation where this would be acceptable would be where you have written consent from the existing company or if the company is part of the same group.

  • It must end in ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’

The choice is yours. If the registered office is in Wales you can use ‘cyfyngedig’ or ‘cyf’ at the end instead.

There are special exemptions to this rule e.g. not-for-profit organisations and charities.

  • Stay away from names which suggest a connection with a governmental body or otherwise

You would need to get special permission if you wanted to include words like ‘Crown Estate’ or ‘Registered Society’ in your company name. If you’re unsure check the list of buzz words and expressions here and regulated words here.

  • Don’t include sensitive words

Examples include ‘Royal’, ‘Council’ and ‘Association’. To use such words, you will need permission from the Secretary of State. This is to avoid misleading the public, for example, by suggesting some connection with an official body. A list of examples can be found here.

  • Avoid use of offensive names/symbols

It might seem obvious, but you can’t include words which would constitute an offence. You also need to stay away from most signs and symbols.

  • Trademarks

Trade marks are a separate issue, however, in choosing a company name you may inadvertently be infringing existing trade marks if the name is too similar. To avoid this, you should also carry out a search here.

For detailed Government guidance on restrictions and Trade Marks please visit the Gov.UK website.

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