If you’re going through the company formation process, you will be required to choose a name for your new company. This is a crucial decision, as the name you choose will be one of the first things your customers and anyone who interacts with your company will see when they deal with you. Alongside choosing a memorable name that will stick in people’s minds, there are several things you need to consider to ensure your new company name adheres to the rules set out by Companies House. Today, we’re going to discuss all the things you need to take into account when choosing a company name and the resources available to help you determine whether your chosen name complies with the law.



Company Name Legal Requirements

There are a few rules and regulations surrounding company names that you will need to bear in mind when making your decision. We recommend seeking advice from experts in company formation packages when embarking on the company formation process, as they will be able to perform company searches and assist with your company’s formation, ensuring you choose a legitimate name.

Similarities With Existing Company Names

Firstly, you cannot register a name that is exactly the same or strikingly similar to an existing company name. If the public would be confused by the company’s identity because of its name, then it will likely be considered the ‘same as’ another name. ‘Same as’ names are those in which the only distinguishing differences are:

  • Punctuation
  • The addition of a special character (for example: +)
  • A word that has a similar appearance or meaning to a word in the existing name
  • A word or character that sees widespread use in company names (for example: UK)

It is good practice to choose a unique name that does not in any way resemble an existing name to avoid the possibility of legal disputes further down the line. If your name is considered ‘too like’ another company name and someone complains to Companies House, you could be forced to change it, which would lead to a business rebrand.

Characters, Signs and Symbols

Certain characters, signs and symbols are not permitted in company names. This includes things like the heart symbol, but it is perhaps easier to outline which characters are permitted in a company name. You shouldn’t run into any issues if you build your company name from the following list of approved characters and symbols.

  • The alphabet – lower and uppercase. Accented letters are included in this; however, it is advised to use the unaccented letter(s) for the company name, then trade with the accented letter(s) post company formation as your trading name.
  • Numbers
  • The following symbols: & @ £ $ * = # % + ‘’ ( ) [ ] { } < > € ¥ ! ‘ “ ” ? \ / « » . – _ : ;

Private Limited Companies

All private limited companies must register a name that ends in either ‘Limited’ or ‘LTD’. If your company’s registered office is in Wales, you may use ‘Cyfyngedig’ or ‘CFY’.

Limited Liability Partnerships

All Limited Liability Partnerships must end their registered name with ‘Limited Liability Partnerships’ or ‘LLP’. Similarly to the above, LLP’s with a registered office in Wales may use ‘partneriath atebolrwydd cyfngedig’, or ‘PAC’.



Sensitivity Searches for Company Names

There are controls to ensure company names do not contain sensitive or offensive words or phrases that could harm or mislead the public. As part of our company formation services, you can use our search tool to instantly check whether your chosen name is available or contains any sensitive words or expressions. It is worth pointing out that the sensitive words are not necessarily prohibited but, if you decide to try and use one in your company name, the name will need to be considered by a specialist body before it is approved. Sensitive words and expressions include:

  • Any word that suggests a business has superiority or a particular status.
  • The implication of a connection with the Royal Family, UK Government, devolved administration, local authority or public authority.
  • Any words that represent a regulated activity.
  • Any word or phrase that could be considered offensive.


Choosing A Compelling Company Name

How literal or obscure you want to make your company name is up to you. There is an argument to be made, particularly for fledgling companies, that you should choose a name that is descriptive of what your company does or the industry you are operating in. For example, if you’re forming a company that will operate in the construction sector, you may want to include the word ‘construction’ in your company name to make it obvious to people what your business does. That said, there are plenty of incredibly successful companies with obscure names that do not make it obvious what they do – but, if you want to go down this route, you’ll need to ensure you have a robust business marketing plan in place.



Protecting Your Company Name

Once you’ve navigated the company formation process and registered your name with Company’s House, you may want to think about protecting it. Even once your name is registered, it is still possible for someone else to trade using a name that is similar to yours. If you would like more information on this, or how to avoid it, read our article on the difference between a trading name and a company name.

You may also find yourself in a situation where someone registers your company name as a trademark and then proceeds to take action against you for using their trademarked name. Other people or businesses are also free to register a website domain name that contains your company name, preventing you from purchasing it in the future.

You should take steps to protect your company name by registering a trademark and domain name if they are available. It’s important to protect your company name, as this means you’ll also be protecting your brand and preventing others from damaging your reputation.

Company formation is just one of many services we offer here at Company Registrations Online. We also offer company searches, company winding up search and corporate information services amongst others. If you would like more information about how we can help you, please contact us today.