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What's in a name

What’s in a Name?

Quite a lot!!
There are restrictions on Company Names, you are not allowed to just use any name when setting up a company. It is important that you check to make sure that you are not planning on using a name the “same as” or similar to anyone else’s. If you use a similar name you may give the impression that you are the connected in some way. 
If you are setting up a company that is intended to part of the same group then the “same as” rule does not apply you would have to provide a letter confirming this, equally if the existing company has no objections.

Always use the Companies House Webcheck service and look at the UK intellectual Property Office website for any infringements of trademarks.

There are also keywords and expressions that are classed as sensitive and you will need permission from the Secretary of State to use them. The rules are in place to ensure that you can’t use words which may mislead the public.

You can’t choose a name that may suggest a link to the UK Government, local authority or a public authority. Or use British, Institute or Tribunal
You also can’t use a word that may cause offence.

There are certain characters, signs and symbols you can’t use – such as  ‘ ’ ' , ( ), [ ], { }, < >, !, « », “, ”, ", ?, . /, ?, , / and “*”, “=”, “#”, “%” and “+” when they are first 3 characters. Also “the” and “www” at the beginning of a name.

Ltd or Limited?

A private company must end in either of these – it doesn’t matter which one that you use, it is matter for you to decide. You can choose to amend this after incorporation but it would be better to decide before hand and save the expense of a name change.
If you are a private limited company by guarantee, you may be able to apply for an exemption from using limited or Ltd. Your articles of association must state that the objects of the company are for the promotion of commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or profession incidental or inductive to these objects, also prohibit the payment of dividends or the return of capital to members and all assets upon the company winding up be transferred to another body or company with similar objects. (You can apply for an exemption on section A3 of the IN01 application)

Can I use Plc?

This is only for Public limited companies and the company name must end in either Plc or public limited company.
If you are a LLP or a CIC you can choose to use these after your company name, so that people are aware of your company type.

Can a company object to company names?

If a company feels that the names are too similar, misleading or an opportunistic registration then a complaint can be made and you may be made to change your registered name. This will affect your online and offline marketing and you may be required to destroy printed materials at great cost.

Can I use a different business name to my registered name

You can use a different name to your registered name, many companies have a “trading” name, but there are a few restrictions, mostly around the use of government department or public bodies, misleading names. 

Where do I display my company name

You must display your registered name

  • at your registered office;
  • other places of business;
  • website  - it doesn’t have to be on every page but it must be visible and easy to read;
  • stationery – this includes letters, emails, invoices, order forms, so that customers and suppliers know who they are dealing with.

You may have 2 addresses on your stationery – the registered office and the actual trading or day to day business address – they don’t have to be the same.
The only exception is if the company has been dormant since it was incorporated.

What information should I include

You must display

  • Where the company was set up – i.e. England & Wales, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland
  • The company number
  • The address of the registered office

If you are exempt from using limited in your name you must still state you are limited.

Do I have to show Directors names on letters

You can decide, but if you choose to, you must use all the Directors – you can't just put some on and omit others – all or none!!