Company formations in the UK
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Check Your Company Name

Frequently Asked Questions

What name can I use for my company?

The name of your company cannot be the same as, or too similar to, that of another registered company.  Whatever name you choose, however, Companies House requires that a limited company has at the end of its name either “Limited” or, in its abbreviated form, “Ltd” (there is no difference between the two apart from how they appear on paper).

You can use our name search tool to check whether a company name is available. This links with a government database of registered company names to find whether the limited company name that you would like to use is available at Companies House. 

Can I reserve my company name without forming a company?

No. You must register a limited company using your desired company name in order to reserve that name and prevent others from using it.

Once your company is incorporated, you may maintain it in a dormant (i.e. non-trading) state but you must still fulfill your statutory filing and reporting obligations.

What words cannot be used in a company name?

Some words are never allowed in a company name. For example, any words whose use either causes offence or which is an offence in and of itself. A company name must not mislead as to the nature of its business activities in any way that is likely to cause harm.

Sensitive words and expressions. There are some words and phrases that are not always forbidden within the name of a company but permission for their use should first be sought from the appropriate body. As a rule, these words and phrases are connected with HM government or with public authority, for example the words “Queen”, “King”, “Royal”, “Police”, “Law Commission” etc.

Some words and phrases are protected by other legislation. For example, you may not use the word “charity” without the permission of the Charity Commission. Companies House regulates the use of all sensitive words and your company will not be registered if the requirements are not met.

Can I be exempt from using the word “Limited” or “Ltd” in a company name?

There are certain circumstances in which limited companies may omit the word “Limited” or “Ltd”. This applies only to a private company which is limited by guarantee. A private company that is limited by guarantee can apply for exemption from the requirement to include “Limited”, “Ltd”, or the Welsh equivalents “Cyfyngedig” or “Cyf”, from its name provided that the articles of association meet certian requirements (learn more in our Knowledge base).

You can apply for exemption from using the term “limited” at the end of your company’s name while you are filling in your application to register it on this website. Either use your own Articles or edit our model Articles to include the objects of your company that meet the requirements for such exemption. To claim an exemption after registration/incorporation, a company that is limited by guarantee must complete Companies House form NE01.

What is a business or trading name?

A company may have only one registered name but it can have also one or more “trading names”. A trading name is a name other than an official registered name or names but under which a person, partnership or company trades, i.e. carries out business.

Trading names are often used for marketing purposes or to distinguish one division of the company from another. In such a case the bank account, stationery, advertising, website and so forth of the person, partnership or company concerned must usually state – for example – “Acme Operations Ltd., trading as ABC Servicing”.

Are there other ways to protect a company name?

A registered company name is not the same as a registered trade mark. To have exclusive rights over a name or brand as a trade mark it must be separately registered as a trade mark to protect it from use by others. It may be a good idea also to register as a trade mark any trading name that you wish to protect for your own exclusive business use.

You may also wish to register your company name and/or trading name as a domain name in order to protect your right to it in that form, too.

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