Naming your limited company or limited liability partnership

Your limited company or LLP name must conform to certain regulations. If you choose a name that does not meet these requirements, you will not be able to use it.

Guide

3 min read

1. Overview

The name of your limited company or LLP must conform to certain regulations. If you choose a name that does not meet these requirements, you will not be able to use it.

This guide provides guidance on how to choose a name and gives examples of the controls which apply to prescribed and other sensitive words.

2. Choosing a name for a company or LLP

There are several rules to consider when choosing a name for your company or LLP.

You will need to check that it is not the 'same as' that of an existing company or LLP. A 'same as' name may not be identical to an existing company name, but if it is very similar it could cause confusion. For example, if a company called 'Smith Transport Services Limited' already exists, you could not register 'Smith Transport Services UK Limited'. You could not register this name unless the two companies are part of the same group and other conditions are satisfied.

Required words

Limited companies and LLPs are required to include certain words in their names:

  • private limited company names must end with 'Limited or 'Ltd'
  • private unlimited company names may end with 'unlimited' but are not required to do so
  • public limited company names must end with 'public limited company' or 'plc', in capital or lower-case with or without full stops
  • LLP names must end with 'limited liability partnership' or 'LLP'

When will Companies House refuse to register a company name?

Companies House will not register a name if:

  • its use would constitute an offence or is offensive
  • it implies a connection with central or local government, or with some public authorities
  • it includes a 'sensitive' word or expression
  • it includes characters, signs, symbols and punctuation which are not permitted
  • it is identical to, or the same as, another name appearing on the index of company names
  • it uses any of the name endings 'limited', 'ltd', 'unlimited', 'public limited company' or 'plc' in a way that misleads or causes confusion

3. Objections to company names

Once the name of your company or LLP has been registered, you should not need to change it. However, there are some exceptions. You may need to change your company or LLP name if:

  • there is an objection, upheld by the Secretary of State, that the name is 'too like' another business' name
  • within five years of registration it is found that misleading information was given at the time of registration
  • within five years of registration any conditions attached to the registration have not been fulfilled. For example, the provision of support documentation for a sensitive name
  • someone objects that the company or LLP name is the same as one in which they have goodwill and that the reason for registration was 'opportunistic'
  • the name is misleading and as a result may cause harm to the public

What is 'too like'?

If a company name is found to be very similar to that of an existing company name they are likely to be 'too like'. For example, if the names differ in a minor way. Most names that are 'too like' could cause some confusion, such as the names A & B Consultants Limited and A & B Consulting Limited.

If names differ by one or more words, they will usually be acceptable. Names won't be acceptable if they have very distinctive elements in common, and differ only by words such as 'services' or 'trading'.

Objecting to a name

If you wish to object to a name, write to the registrar where the company to which you object is registered:

For England and Wales:
The Secretary of State
Registration Customer Support
Companies House
Crown Way
Cardiff
CF14 3UZ

For Scotland:
The Secretary of State
New Companies
Companies House
4th Floor
Edinburgh Quay 2
139 Fountainbridge
Edinburgh
EH3 9FF

For Northern Ireland:
The Registrar of Companies
Companies House
Second Floor
The Linenhall
32-38 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BG

Directions to change a company name must be issued within 12 months of registration or change of name. If the registrar upholds the objection, the company or LLP must change its name within 12 weeks.

Opportunistic registrations

A company can be ordered to change its name. This would happen if a company has registered a name to get money or other consideration from an individual or another company.

4. Prescribed and sensitive words

You need the consent of a relevant body or must meet certain requirements before you can use certain words. A copy of the consent must be sent to Companies House with the application to register your company or LLP.

Business Gateway can give you information and advice on all areas of business. Call us on 0845 609 6611.

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