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What can I name my limited company?

November 29, 2012

As long as you comply with the relevant rules you can call your company whatever you like, provided that no one else is using the name already. However there are some restrictions that you need to comply with.

The full rules are set out at Companies House but, broadly, for trading private limited companies the restrictions fall into four categories:

  1. Name ‘the same’ as another: Although it’s already been said that your name has to be unique, Companies House has rules which ‘deem’ names to be the same even though they are different. So for example, ‘Catering UK Limited’ is the same as ‘Catering International Limited’ and ‘H and S Limited’ is the same as ‘Hands Limited’.
  2. Name too similar to another name: Even if your name is not the same as another, it can’t be too similar to another name already on the register. If a name is too similar to another existing name then the pre-existing company can file an objection with Companies House regarding the name.
  3. Sensitive words and expressions: There are certain sensitive words that have been designated and require special permission to use in a name. These are, broadly:
    – words that suggest a particular function or pre-eminence;
    – words that imply a connection with a government department, public authority or devolved administration; and
    – words that cause a criminal offence.
  4. Finally every private limited company must have the word limited or ltd (or the Welsh equivalents) in their name unless they have special dispensation to exclude these.

From a practical perspective, before choosing a name, we’d also suggest that you check for any relevant trademarks and to make sure that the domain name you want is available. The name also shouldn’t be misleading or suggest an association with an existing business as this could get you in trouble under the law of passing off.

Finally, good luck. It’s not an easy process choosing a name and you will likely go through a lot of different options before you settle on something you like and you think will stand the test of time. It will be worth it when you find that perfect name though, we promise.

Further Information

This article has been provided by Elemental CoSec, experts in providing company secretarial services and incorporating new companies.