So you’ve decided to form your own Limited Company, congratulations! While it’s a fantastically exciting time for new employment adventures, there are a few things you’ll need to get in order before you can trade through your company, and one of them is your company name. How do you go about doing it, what’s required, and how do you check if it’s even available?
This blog looks at all the factors to consider when choosing the name to ensure that it complies with the rules set by Companies House.
Limited or Ltd – which one to choose?
The first thing to note is that all private Limited Companies in the UK must have either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ at the end of their name.
Beware: If you register with ‘Limited’ you can use ‘Ltd’, but if you register with ‘Ltd’ you can’t use ‘Limited’. Make sure you choose the right option.
What’s the right name for you and your company?
The perfect company name lets prospective clients know what you do and that you mean business. Here are a few things to consider:
- What industry are you in, and can your company name reflect this? If you’re an IT contractor for example, portray what you do straight away to your prospective clients
- How creative do you want to be? Would you prefer to appear serious, or stand out from the crowd with your uniqueness? Made-up words or acronyms can give an individual feel
- Will your personal name feature in the company name? As in ‘Joe Bloggs IT Contracting Limited’ for instance
- How will your company name sit alongside your personal marketing strategy (if you have one)?
- Will your name reflect you as an individual, or your company?
Deciding what your personal and/or company image is will probably be the most difficult part of creating a name. Write a list and get an idea for what feels right to you.
Another tip would be to look at your direct competitors’ names – what do you like/dislike about them, and how will you stand out against them to your prospective client base?
What’s generally allowed?
As long as the name is unique there’s a wide range of choice available. Some people choose random words or phrases as they’re not intending to use the company name as a brand to trade on. If this is the case for you then you’ll probably be less concerned about what the name sounds like, which gives you even greater choice.
If you intend to incorporate the company name in your marketing strategy then just bear in mind that more often than not the most obvious choices have already been taken, so you may have to get a bit creative with it. Even if you can’t find something that you really like it’s still possible to use a ‘Trading Name’ that fits, as long as this doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s name or trademark. To do this you’ll still need to display your registered company name on all documentation and your website, but you can add something like ‘Stellar Computing Genius is a trading name of Xylo 2013 Ltd’.
If you’re professionally qualified, such as a Chartered Accountant, then you may be able to obtain permission to use this in your company name if you want to, but remember to check that the full company name remains entirely unique.
Here are a few rules and considerations every contractor must abide by:
- The name can’t be the same (or too similar) to an existing name from the Companies House index of names. With expressed permission from the other name owner you can get around this, but this is based on exceptional circumstances only. To check if it’s already been taken, visit the Companies House website
- Your company name can’t include a ‘sensitive’ word or expression. It also can’t imply business superiority, a particular status or specific function. For example, you can’t use the word ‘bank’, as this would need to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority
- National words such as ‘British’, ‘Great British’, ‘Great Britain’, ‘United Kingdom’ or ‘International’ are strictly controlled. Only Companies House will allow these based on exceptional circumstances
- The name can’t have nor indicate any connections with the Government or local authorities
- Be creative – but not rude! Offensive names are not permitted
- Characters, symbols and punctuation can also be restricted
Beware: You may wish to call your company whatever you like, but Companies House has the power to reject any name they feel doesn’t comply with the points above. So save yourself time, effort (and potentially money) and make sure you comply to get it right first time.
Can you reserve a company name?
While you might know what name you’d like to use, you may not be quite ready to register your Limited Company. So what do you do? Unfortunately you can’t reserve your company name, but you can set up your Limited Company in a ‘dormant’ state.
Beware: Even though the company is dormant, your legal responsibilities as a Director are still active. Make sure you’re aware of what’s required of you while your company is dormant.
Can you change it further down the line?
If you want or need to change your company name you can do so in two ways:
- Special resolution – if you change the name using a special resolution, you must file a copy of the resolution, a completed NM01 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House
- Provision in the company’s articles – if you change the company name by means provided for in the company’s articles, you must file a NM04 form and the appropriate fee with Companies House.
Beware: Changing your company name through Companies House isn’t the only place you’ll have to do so. If you have social media platforms, stationery, or other mediums which carry your old name, these will all have to be changed, which can get costly. Our advice is make sure you like your name before you register it!
As part of Intouch’s monthly fixed fee, company incorporation is included. Our specialist team will make sure you’re eased into Limited Company ownership knowing that the name, information requirements and paperwork are fully compliant and have been appropriately filed with Companies House. Good luck!
This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.