Are there any restrictions on the choice of a company’s name?
The first stage in registering your company is to choose the company name. The choice of a business name is governed by Part 41 of the Companies Act 2006.
In deciding upon a company name, you will first need to check the Companies House Index of Registered and Proposed Company Names. This can be done on Companies House website.
If your company is a private limited company its name must end with "limited" or, if its registered office is in Wales, with "cyfyngedig" or with the permitted alternatives, i.e. "ltd" or "cyf". There is an exception to this rule for private companies limited by guarantee 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 name of a private unlimited company may end in "unlimited" but it is not required to do so. The name of a public limited company must end with "public limited company" or "plc", with or without full stops. If its registered office is in Wales, it may end with "cwmni cyfyngedig cyhoeddus" or "ccc", with or without full stops.
There are a number of additional controls and restrictions which will apply to the main part of your company’s name. Companies House will not register a company name if:
• its use would constitute a criminal 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);
• it includes characters, signs, symbols and punctuation which are not permitted. A list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation can be found in The Company Limited Liability Partnership, and Business Names (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015; and
• it is identical to another name appearing on the index of company names or differs from another name in a trivial way, i.e. is effectively the "same as" an existing name. The Company, Limited Liability Partnership & Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015 should be consulted.
Also if "limited", "ltd", "unlimited", "cyfyngedig", "cyf", or "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 which is exempt from using "limited", the name concludes with "unlimited" or "anghyfyngedig" or one of the words or expressions (or permitted abbreviations) in such a way that it would mislead the public as to the legal form of the company if included in the registered name of the company.
If, in the case of an unlimited company, the name concludes with "limited" or "cyfyngedig" or one of the words or expressions (or permitted abbreviations) in such a way that it would 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 expressions or abbreviations such as "public limited company" or "open-ended investment company".
When you call Companies House with your proposed name they will alert you if that name conflicts with the regulations. So long as the name is outside the restrictions above and previously unregistered on the Index you should not have any problems.