Consider the Legal Requirements
There are a number of restrictions on the choice of UK company name. These restrictions cover:
- the requirements on how a company name should end;
- rules to prevent the use of an existing or similar name; and
- controls over the user of certain words, phrases, characters and symbols.
Comprehensive guidance to incorporating a company and information on choosing an acceptable company name is available from the UK registrar.
How should the Company Name end?
If the UK company is a private company limited by shares or guarantee, then its name must end with “Limited” or “Ltd”. If however, the company’s registered office is in Wales, then the Welsh “Cyfyngedig” or “Cyf.” can also be used.
Note that a company name can only be up to 60 characters long – including the company name ending.
Rules to prevent the use of Existing or Similar names.
If two company names are similar so that they are likely to confuse as to which company is which, then they are the “same as”.
The “same as” rule is not applied where the proposed company will be part of the same group as an existing company or where the existing company consents to the registration of the proposed name.
Controls over the use of certain words and phrases.
The following are restricted:
- Names that suggest a connection with the UK Government, a devolved government or administration or a specific authority.
- Names that include words that would constitute an offence;
- Offensive names; and
- Names that include “sensitive” words.
Sensitive words and phrases
Sensitive words and phrases are expressions which when included in a company or business name could:
- suggest business pre-eminence, a particular status or a specific function;
- imply a connection with a government department, administration or public authority; or
- cause criminal offence.
Further information on Sensitive words can be found within the The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2009; and within The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Public Authorities) Regulations 2009.
To use the majority of these words you will need to obtain the views of the body specified in the regulations. For other words you may need to seek the views of another relevant body.
In all cases the body concerned is not required to support the name but should indicate in writing whether it has any objection to the proposed name. If it has no objection the letter or email need only confirm this view. If the body does object then it should explain the reasons. A copy of the response must be submitted with the application.
Restricted Characters and Symbols:
- designated company name endings, including: “limited”, “unlimited”, “public limited company”;
- certain words and expressions including “biz”, “co”, “co.uk”, “com”, “company”, “UK”, “United Kingdom”, “Wales”, “Cymru”, “net”, “org.uk”, “services” and “international”;
- punctuation, including a full stop, comma, colon, bracket, apostrophe;
- characters (8,#,% and +) when used as one of the first three characters of a name,
- “s” at the end of a name, irrespective of whether it is plural;
- “the” and “www” at the beginning of a name;