A guide to choosing a name for your business

Congratulations entrepreneur, you’ve created your own company. Now you need to name it, and unfortunately, there are rules for that. Provided by Companies House - the government body that regulates all UK businesses – there is a range of prerequisites for the all-important name that you might be stuck with for a while.

Breaking down the rules, ProveICalled have created a handy guide for you below.

What does a company count as?

A name must be given for any business you are setting up that involves a private limited company, a limited liability partnership, a limited partnership, an ‘ordinary’ business partnership or as a sole trader. Though you needn’t register with Companies House for the latter, you still need to adhere to the business name rules.

Can and can’ts

Your company name cannot:

· Be the exact same as another registered company’s name. You can search the Companies House register to double check if it is in use or not.

· Be similar to another registered name. It should ideally be unique, but you can work that one out for yourself – if you think it might be, then it probably is. However, it is possible to get permission from an existing Ltd or LLP company if it’s the same or similar to theirs – but you either must have written confirmation or it must be part of the same group. ‘Same as’ and ‘too like’ names are the two different categories it cannot be.
Same as – meaning the only difference is punctuation, special characters or one or more words listed in the guidance on naming. Example: Hands UK Ltd and Hand’s UK Ltd are the same as Hands Ltd.
Too like – if somebody complains that your company name is too similar to theirs and they have registered first, you may have to change it. Companies House will contact you if this happens.

· Contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression without permission or be generally offensive. Also goes without saying.

· Suggest a connection with any government body or local authorities. So don’t call your company ‘The Police,’ silly.

So in essence, be unique.

Names, trademarks and business names

Here are some more rules about displaying your name:

· Remember you must register trademarks separately to registering your company or partnership. Using your company name does not ensure it is protected. You should perhaps check the trademark register before the name.

· Though most private limited UK companies end in Ltd it is possible to apply to leave ‘limited’ from your name. However it must be limited by guarantee and your articles of association say your company either has objects of promotion or regulation of commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession, cannot pay its members, must spend its income on promoting its objects or requires each member to contribute to company assets if it’s wound up during their membership, or within a year of them stopping being a member.

· You are able to trade using a different name to your registered name – known as a business name. It must not however include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’ or be the same as an existing trade mark. It generally follows the rules of the ‘cannots’ above.