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Rules you must follow when naming your limited company

December 1, 2016

If you are setting up a limited company, you should think carefully when choosing your company name. Alongside the business reasons for choosing an appropriate name, there are also a number of company naming rules you should be aware of.

If you breach certain naming rules, Companies House will simply reject your company formation application.

Company naming rules

Here is an overview of the main rules you need to be aware of when deciding on the name for your new company.

Each company name must be unique

Each company name must be unique. When buying a limited company online, the registration agent will be able to tell you if your chosen name is available or not.

You can conduct a simple online search with our company formations partner to see whether the name you would like to use for your new company is available.

You can change your company name at a later date, but you cannot change the company registration number which will be allocated by Companies House when you form a company.

Each private limited company name must include a ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ suffix (such as Bytestart Limited). If your company’s registered office address is in Wales you can choose to use the Welsh suffix “cyfyngedig” or “cyf”.

Words and terms you cannot use

You cannot use so-called ‘sensitive’ words unless you have received official permission. You can read a detailed list of these sensitive words in the Companies House Guide to incorporation and names.
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You should not choose an ‘offensive’, ‘abusive’, or ‘illegal’ company name. Not only would that be an odd thing to do for obvious business reasons, but your choice could also be rejected.

Your company is a legal entity, but you can carry on business using a different name if you choose.

Trade Marks

Don’t choose a name which contains trademarked words, or words deliberately used to resemble them. You may have trouble later on if you do so.

To make sure you avoid trade marked names when naming your limited company you should check the UK’s Intellectual Property Office’s Trade Mark Register.

Once you form a limited company, your name will be protected by Companies House. No other applicants can choose a name that is too similar to yours.

You might also want to protect your company or brand name with a trade mark. You will need to register a trade mark separately and you can learn more about this in our guide to What startups and small business owners need to know about Trade Marks.

Matching domain name

It’s not a requirement, but it’s definitely a good idea to try to secure a matching domain name for your new company name. This will provide you with seamless branding, and an email address to match your company name.

Alongside the .co.uk domain name suffix, we would also recommend you try to secure the .com domain as well, to protect your online identity.

With fierce competition for short, snappy domain names, there has been a trend in recent years for business owners to find a suitable domain name first, and then name their company after their preferred web address.

If your business is going to have a significant online presence, this is a good idea.

Further resources on setting up a limited company

For more help on the various aspects of forming a company, read these other ByteStart guides;

More on starting and running your own business

ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of starting and running a small business. Check out some of our most popular guides;

Starting Up

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