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.
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.
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;
- How to set up a limited company
- Limited company or sole trader – which is best for me?
- 10 advantages of running your business as a limited company over being a sole trader
- A Shareholders’ Agreement – Why you should get one if you are setting up a company with others
- The responsibilities of a company director
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;
- 10 Do’s and Don’ts of writing a business plan
- How to choose the best online accounting software for your new business
- How to create business cards that make a big impression
- ByteStart’s 60-second guide to Value Added Tax (VAT) for start-ups and small businesses
- Which types of insurance must your business have?
Funding your business
- How to maximise your chances of securing a small business loan
- A Guide to ‘Alternative Finance’ – the new funding options for startups and small businesses
- Finding finance for your new business – funding advice for start-ups
- 10 Top tips to ensure your crowdfunding efforts are rewarded
- What to do when the bank says “NO”!
Money & Tax matters
- 10 ways small business owners can pay less tax
- Sole trader tax – a guide for start-ups and the newly self employed
- Dividend tax changes from April 2016 – A summary of the financial effects for small business owners
- ByteStart’s Guide to the main business taxes
- Corporation Tax – How to reduce your bill
Promoting your business
- Making your small business a BIG hit online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- 7 Brilliant branding tips for start-ups
- The “Magic 10” Tips on networking – how the experts build great networks
- How to attract customers from heaven – not clients from hell!
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- Employers liability insurance – do you need to get cover?
- Becoming an employer – Your responsibilities when you hire staff
- Health & Safety compliance for small businesses – where do you start?
- A Guide to the National Living Wage for small business owners
- Why it’s vital you have clear ‘Terms & Conditions’ for your business