Choosing a Company Name. The Basics

Although there is a reasonable amount of freedom when you choose a company name, there are certain rules and restrictions that you will need to take into account.

The first thing you will need to do is check the availability of the name using an online company-name-checker. When forming a company through an agent like Simple Formations, this service is part of the formation process and is the first thing you do. You can also check availability on the Companies House web portal, although this will not check for protected words.

Certain words included within a company name, such as bank, institute or dentist, are protected and may require supporting documentation from the relevant body authorising the use of that word. These words are known as ‘sensitive words’ and more information on these protected words can be found on our website.

You may want to choose a company name that is memorable and marketable and communicates what consumers can expect from your brand. You should also consider if the name is available as a domain name for your website and business email addresses.

To add to the difficulties of selecting an available and suitable company name there are certain words that need to be disregarded when comparing your preferred name to another. It is a long list and there are exceptions so you may find it easier to discuss your options with a company formation agent. For example, the company name AABBCC LTD is the same as AABBCC LIMITED, AABBCC SERVICES LTD, AABBCC COMPANY LTD and many other names that are too similar.

There are also rules around punctuation as well as words that could be seen as offensive or rude. You should also think about the initials of the company and make sure they do not inadvertently spell out an unacceptable word that you later find embarrassing.

When forming a new company can choose to use either LTD or LIMITED and the end of your official company name as they mean the same thing. Your choice will only affect the way your company name is displayed on your first incorporation documents. During the life of the company you can use either LTD or LIMITED as there is no legal difference.

Companies House always registers and records company names in capitals, and never produces certificates of incorporation in lower or title case. Once the company is formed you can present your company name in title case if you prefer on your company stationary, logos and website as long as it is always very clear that it is, in fact, a limited company.

Dissolved company names can be used for a new company although it is important to consider that a dissolved company may have a reputation and your choice may inadvertently connect your new company to that previous reputation. There is always a positive possibility too – that the company was very well known and the name itself is sought after. Companies are dissolved for many reasons and they are not always bad. From a legal view the new company registration is a totally separate legal entity to the previously dissolved one.

It is important to remember that a company name can be changed. In the coming months and years you may decide that the company name is not right for you or your business direction changes. At this point you can change your company name to a new one – just make sure your new choice is available first!

To discuss all of the issues that impact your company name choice or for guidance on getting a sensitive word accepted drop us an email or give us a call. We are happy to discuss the rules and regulations with our customers.