Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

This article is based on UK law as at 1st October 2012, unless otherwise stated.

When choosing a name for your company there are certain considerations to bear in mind. Not only must the name that you choose not be registered already with Companies House but also the contents of the name must comply with various requirements.

You should check that the name that you wish to use is not registered already at Companies House. The fact that the name is not registered does not guarantee that the name is available for use by you.

Someone else may be trading under that name already. In so far as it is possible you should check that the name is not being used as the trading or business name of any other company. Although you may be able to register the name you could find yourself liable to a passing off claim if you mislead people into thinking you are connected to another business, trading under that name.

If you are setting up a limited company then its name must end with either the word 'limited', 'ltd.' or the Welsh equivalent. If you are setting up a public limited company then its name must end with either the words 'public limited company', 'plc' or the Welsh equivalent. These words must not be included anywhere else in the name except at the end.

There are strict rules which limit the choices of name available for your company. In essence any name which you chose, must not:

  • be the same as a name already registered;
  • be offensive;
  • constitute a criminal offence by its use;
  • suggest that the company is connected to the Government, a devolved government or administration or a specified public authority;
  • contain certain words or expressions unless approval is first received from the Secretary of State.

The words and expressions, which require prior approval, include:

Abortion, Accredited, Association, Assurance, Assurer, Authority, Bank, Banking, Benevolent, Board, British, Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise, Chamber of Industry, Chamber of Trade, Charitable, Charity, Charter, Chartered, Chemist, Child Maintenance, Child Support, Contact Lens, Co-operative, Council, Dental, Dentistry, Duke, England, English, European, Federation, Friendly Society, Foundation, Fund, Giro, Government, Group, Health Centre, Health Service, Health Visitor, Her Majesty, His Majesty, Holding, Industrial and Provident Society, Institute, Institution, Insurance, Insurer, International, Ireland, Irish, King, Midwife, Midwifery, National, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish, Nurse, Nursing, Ombudsman, Oversight, Parliament, Patent, Patentee, Police, Polytechnic, Post Office, Pregnancy Termination, Prince, Princess, Queen, Reassurance, Reassurer, Register, Registered, Registrar, Registration, Regulation, Regulator, Reinsurance, Reinsurer, Royal, Royalty, Scotland, Scottish, Sheffield, Society, Special School, Stock Exchange, Trade Union, Tribunal, Trust, Underwrite, Underwriting, United Kingdom, University, Wales, Watchdog, Welsh and Windsor.

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