Company formation Registration - HOME

Incorporating a company
Choosing a company name
Sensitive words and expressions
Objections to company names
Directors and secretaries
Public companies
Community Interest Companies
Right To Manage companies and Commonhold Associations
Disclosure of company name and specified other information
Business names
Quality of documents
Further information


Choosing a company name


Before choosing a name you should check the Trade Marks Register of the UK Intellectual Property Office to ensure that the proposed name is not identical or similar to an existing trade mark. The address and contact information can be found on this website. You can also contact the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys via their website. The registration of a company name does not mean the name or part of a name might not infringe other laws such as trade mark law.

1. Can I choose any name I want for my proposed company?

If your company is:

a private limited company - its name must end in “limited” or, if its registered office is in Wales, in "cyfyngedig" or in the permitted alternatives, ie “ltd” or “cyf”. There is an exception to this rule: a private company limited by guarantee can apply for an exemption if:

the objects of the company are the promotion or regulation of commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession, and anything incidental or conducive to any of those objects;
the company’s articles:
- require its income to be applied in promoting its objects;
- prohibit the payment of dividends, or any return of capital, to its members; and
- require each member to contribute to the assets of the company if it is wound up during the time that he is a member or within 1 year of him ceasing to be a member
a private unlimited company - its name may end in “unlimited” but it is not required to do so;
a public limited company - its name must end in “public limited company” or, if its registered office is in Wales, in “cwmni cyfyngedig cyhoeddus “ or in the permitted alternatives, ie “plc” or “ccc” with or without full stops.
There are a number of controls and restrictions which apply to the main part of your company’s name. These are set out in ‘The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009’ (SI 2009/1085)’. Further information on restricted and sensitive names is included in chapter 3. Companies House administers these controls on behalf of the Secretary of State and we will not register a company in a name if:

its use would constitute an offence or it is offensive;
the name suggests a connection with Her Majesty’s Government or a devolved administration or a local authority or certain specified public authorities;
it includes a sensitive word or expression unless certain tests are satisfied and you provide a statement of support by the appropriate government department or other official body. (see chapter 3)
it includes characters, signs, symbols and punctuation which are not permitted. A list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation is included in 'The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations2009'(SI2009/1085);
it is identical to another name appearing on the index of company names or differs from an another name in a trivial way, ie is effectively the “same as” an existing name. (A name that is effectively the “same as” another’s may still be permitted if the two companies will be part of the same group and if the existing company agrees to the other taking the proposed name.) Further information about ’same as’ names is provided in question 2.
it does not end with the appropriate designator (or permitted abbreviation) for the company type (e.g. “limited” or “ltd”; “public limited company” or “plc”; “unlimited”);
if any of the designators “limited”, “ltd”, “unlimited”, “cyfyngedig”, “cyf”, “anghyfyngedig” is used but:
- one or more characters have been omitted;
- one or more characters, symbols signs or punctuation has been added; or
- any one or more of these characters have been replaced with one or more other characters, symbols, signs or punctuation
if, in the case of a company limited by guarantee exempt from using “limited”, the name concludes with “unlimited” or “anghyfyngedig” or one of the words or expressions (or permitted abbreviation) set out in (a) to (f) below in such a way as to mislead the public as to the legal form of the company if included in the registered name of the company.
Iif, in the case of an unlimited company, the name concludes with “limited” or “cyfyngedig” or one of the words or expressions (or permitted abbreviations) set out in (a) to (f) below in such a way as to mislead the public as to the legal form of the company if included in the registered name of the company.
If the name includes in any part of the name any of the expressionsor abbreviations in (g) to (u) below:

(a) public limited company or (with or without full stops) plc (k) european economic interest grouping or(with or without full stops) eeig
(b) cwmni cyfyngedig cyhoeddus or (with or without full stops) ccc (l) investment company with variable capital
(c) community interest company or (with or without full stops) cic (m) cwmni buddsoddi a chyfalaf newidiol
(d) cwmni buddiant cymunedol or(with or without full stops) cbc (n) limited partnership or (with or without full stops) lp
(e) community interest public limited company or(with or without full stops) community interest plc (o) partneriaeth cyfyngedig or (with or with full stops) pc
(f) cwmni buddiant cymunedol cyhoeddus cyfyngedig or(with or without full stops) cwmni buddiant ccc (r) open-ended investment company
(g) right to enfranchisement or (with or without full stops) rte (s) cwmni buddsoddiant penagored
(h) hawl i ryddfreiniad (t) charitable incorporated organisation or (with or without full stops) CIO
(i) right to manage or (with or without full stops) rtm (u) sefdydliad elusennol corfforedig or (with or without full stops) SEC
(j) cwmni rtm cyfyngedig
In addition the name of a commonhold association registered under the Companies Act 2006 must end with ‘commonhold association’, in accordance with the requirements of The Commonhold Regulations 2004’ (Statutory Instrument 2004/1829).

2. What does ‘same as’ mean?

A name is the ’same as’ another name appearing on the index of company names if it is either identical to an existing name or would be deemed to be essentially the same because the name differs only by minor elements which the law requires us to disregard when comparing the two names. For example, we would disregard plurals or certain types of punctuation marks when comparing names.

Examples of what we will disregard or ignore when comparing names are:

any of the designated name endings (including permitted abbreviations with or without full stops or their welsh equivalents) set out in question 1 above, for example, “limited”, “unlimited”, “public limited company” or “community interest company”;
words and expressions such as “biz”, “co”, co uk”, “co.uk”, “com”, “company”, “UK”, “United Kingdom”, “Wales”, “Cymru”, “net”, ”GB”, “Great Britain”, “org.uk”, “services”, “international” (but see question 3 of this chapter for circumstances when these will not be ignored);
a blank space between or after a word, expression, character, sign or symbol;
punctuation including a full stop, comma, colon, semi colon, hyphen, apostrophe, bracket, exclamation mark, question mark;
permitted characters “*”, “=”, “#”, “%” and “+” if they are used as one of the first three characters in a name;
“s” at the end of a name;
“the” and “www” at the beginning of a name;
any but the first 60 characters in a name.
In addition, we will treat certain words and expressions as if they were the same, eg “and” and “&”, “plus” and “+”, “1” and “one”, “6” and “six”, “€” and “euro”, “$” and “dollar”, “%” and “percent”, “@” and “at”,

The ‘same as’ rules are included in ‘The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (SI2009/1085) which we strongly advise you to read before you apply to incorporate your chosen name.

Please note, the “same as” rules do not prevent someone else trading under a name that is the same as a company’s registered name in all respects excepting only the designator (eg “ltd).

3. Are there any exceptions to the ‘same as’ rules?

Yes. Where 2 companies are in the same group, they may have names that differ only by certain specified words and expressions (such as “biz”, “co”, co uk”, “co.uk”, “com”, “company”, “UK”, “United Kingdom”, “Wales”, “Cymru”, “net”, ”GB”, “Great Britain”, “org.uk”, “services”, “international”). This is permitted only if the member of the group whose name is already on the Registrar’s Index of company names gives its consent to the other company adopting the name that differs from its own in this way. The application for the proposed name must include

a copy of a statement in which the existing company consents to the other company adopting the proposed name and confirms it will be part of the same group


4. Can you give some examples of ‘same as’ names?

If 'Hands Limited' is already registered we would reject the following applications:

Hand-S Limited or Ltd;
H and S Public Limited Company (or PLC);
H & S Services Limited (or Ltd);
@H & S Limited (or Ltd);
Hands: Limited (or Ltd);
# H & S Limited (or Ltd);
Similarly, if 'Catering Limited' is already a registered company we would reject the following applications unless the application is for a company in the same group as “Catering Limited” and Catering Limited has given its consent:

Catering UK Limited (or Ltd);
Catering.co.uk Limited (or Ltd);
Catering International Limited (or Ltd)
Catering Company (Services) Limited (or Ltd);


5. Which names need approval?

You will need the Secretary of State’s prior approval if your chosen name:

suggests a connection with Her Majesty’s Government or a devolved administration or a local authority or a specified public authority (see chapter 3 and Appendices A & B);
a sensitive word or expression (see chapter 3 and Appendices A & B).
In the case of any name that requires approval because of the connection it suggests and also in the case of a name that includes certain sensitive words or expressions, you must request the specified Government department or body to indicate whether (and if so why) it has any objection to the proposed name. The ‘Application to register a company (Form IN01) includes a section requiring you to confirm you have sought the comments of the appropriate body. You must also deliver a copy of any response received and other supporting information with your application. Companies House will then consider whether to approve the name on behalf of the Secretary of State.