What Names Are Acceptable for UK Limited Companies?

What Names Are Acceptable for UK Limited Companies?

Most names are acceptable to Companies House, but there are number of exceptions which fall into the following categories:

1. The proposed company name must be unique, meaning that there must be no other company incorporated under the same name.

2. Some words as “British”, “Group” or “International” must be substantiated by the means of providing evidence of other related companies or companies operating in at least two different countries. You will need to apply separately for the use of reserved words.

There are also sensitive words which could imply a connection with the UK government, an administration or specified public authority.

Words such as King or Queen are sensitive words, and you need request approval to use a sensitive word from the corresponding bodies/persons.

3. Names containing words likely to cause offence are not allowed.

For the company name search you can use our up to the minute system to check whether your chosen name is available for registration. Our company name search system is fully harmonized with Companies House, so you always get the most relevant result.

In case your chosen name is similar to an existing company name, that company could object within 12 months and you may be forced to change your company’s name.

Related: Changing From Sole Trader to Limited Company

Important Notice – Similar Names

Since October 2009 Companies House has started exercising stricter regulations in regards to similar names. Unfortunately, our current company name search engine can only specify if a name has or hasn’t been taken.

For example, ABC Ltd will be unavailable on our search as the name is already taken. ABC GB Ltd would appear to be available. However, this is not the case, GB falls into a category of words and expressions that Companies House feel do not separate the latter from the former. Therefore the company would be rejected. Other such words/expressions that fall into the same category are:

  • Company

  • Com

  • co.uk

  • International

  • Net

  • Org

  • Services

  • UK

  • United Kingdom

For the extensive list of words/expressions take a look here.

Please note that if you already owned ABC Ltd and wanted to form ABC GB Ltd this would be possible. You would just need to create a supporting document detailing your ownership or directorship of the original company.

Companies House will also reject names split up with punctuation marks. Once again, using ABC Ltd as our example company, all the below would also be rejected.

  • AB-C Ltd

  • AB and C Ltd (or &)

  • ABC! Ltd

  • @ABC Ltd

Companies House accepts the following punctuation, signs and symbols marks

  • 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9

  • full stop (.), comma (,), colon (:), semi-colon (;) or hyphen (-)

Further reading:

UK Company Formation FAQ

How to choose a great name for your new business/startup?

How to choose a great name for your new business/startup?

Name selection for your new business is an important and crucial process. This decision will influence your business throughout its entire lifetime.

It may sound easy, though. What a big deal in the end? You just starting out and any name will be good for now, right?

Well, not really.

As a beginner, you need to make use of every single opportunity to raise your chances to succeed.

Your business name is an another opportunity for you to get maximum out of it. Many people underestimate the importance of effective and “working” business name. They often do not believe that the business name, unless it is obviously abortive, can have a significant effect on their business results.

However, this is not true.

Business name is vital for success. It has an impact on your business identity, the first impression your customers get, your marketing, SEO and even legal stuff. Needless to say that these are serious things and you certainly do not what to mess them up.

Large corporations and big companies employ the naming agencies and spend significant amounts for their name selection.

Investing in your company name prior to business operations will save you money and time in a long run. Therefore, we recommend to take time and find the name that best suits your business.

So what would be a perfect name for your new business/startup?

Although there is no official set of rules that will help you come up with the exact name you need to use, there are certain things that you need to take into consideration.

Perform a Research

First, start with a thorough research. Identify your market and target audience. Your market primarily defines the requirements for your business name. If you have ready marketing strategy refer to it.

Do you aim to target teenagers, young moms or businesses? Those categories are significantly different. Do you need a business name that conveys credibility and quality? Maybe fun or creativity?  Or maybe you need the combination of two or three?

Your research will help you to outline the message your business name needs to communicate.

When you have the clear picture stick to it and make sure that the chosen name suits your market and is not extrinsic.

Brainstorm

As soon as you’ve done your research and have the idea of what you need start brainstorming. Often many forget about the power of brainstorming. You never know what brainstorming will bring you. It is quite possible that you’ll end up with “Aha!” effect having a number of amazing business names.

So, brainstorm the potential business names and make a long list. After your long list is ready start filtering it to create a short list based on the principles listed below.

Stand out

It is a good decision to choose a company name that will help you stand out from the crowd and will highlight your uniqueness. Consider your potential customers browsing through the directories. Your company name stickiness will often be decisive here.

Additionally, with a unique name it is easy to get remembered by customers and have repeated sales with them. If your name is sticky then there are chances that the customers will recall you and not your competitors when they need your service or product next time.

However, do not choose names that are too uncommon and apparently unclear. There is a level of uniqueness from which it starts to work against you as people simply do not understand your message or they experience troubles with reading and pronouncing it.

Keep it simple and short

Short and sweet names have always been an excellent choice. They are sharp and easy to remember. Experts reaffirm that company names that are shorter are much better. So, if possible, try to avoid names with more than one word. Use two to three syllables and avoid the use of special characters. It Is also a good idea to avoid abbreviations that don’t mean anything to other people.

Avoid Names that are hard to spell or pronounce

The next step is to find a name that is easy to pronounce. Using fancy foreign words that are difficult to pronounce should be avoided. People misspell unknown words and this is what you do not want to happen to your business name.

You may come up with such names while trying to stand out as per our advice above. That kind of names definitely stand out but for this reason, they also may be hard to spell or pronounce. So, you need to find your middle way here.

Foreign words (Italian or French for example) may be adorable and sound just beautiful, but do not let the temptation affect your neutrality. The mere fact that you like it does not make it effective as you are likely to be biased. You may be in love with uncommon foreign names, but keep your business objectives in mind and stay focused. Those names usually are not catchy without a prior knowledge of their meaning.

Choose a name that will stand first in alphabetical orders

This is actually one of the reasons why Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak chose Apple as a name for their new company.

Many online and offline directories, phone books and other business databases divide companies alphabetically. Therefore, naming your company with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet will help you to be at the top of the list (leaving behind your competitors) at no extra cost.  This free advantage combined with the stickiness of your business name will leverage the power of business directories for your benefit.

Your name shall tell what you do

It is good if your business name actually tells what you do. This way it conveys the immediate and clear message of the nature of your service or product so you do not need to go into explanations or whatever. For example, many hair studios use salon in their names and therefore everybody knows what is their business about.

Avoid restrictive names

Your business name must have a potential to improve your image. The most important thing is to be sure how you want to be perceived by the market. This might seem like an easy task, but it isn’t.

Many people make the same mistake and choose names that are too restricting. When we say this we mean names that cannot be used in case you decide to expand your company in the future. A good business plan must include a strategy for growth and expansion and using a company name that sets limitations is not a smart choice.

For instance, if you choose a name like “Cotton Shirts”, you will find it difficult to include sweaters, hoodies, dresses and other things that are usually associated with shirts in your offer.

Or another example of a restrictive name is when it includes a specific geographical area. It will be hard for you to expand your business in London if your company name is “Birmingham Real Estates”. Many current global companies struggled from geographically limited business names and were forced to de-emphasize its regional nature. A great example is Kentucky Fried Chicken which is now KFC.

Use online tools

There are amazing online tools for the name selection out there. Try them to save your time and get better results. Play a bit with the names from your long list to find creative combinations. Here are some useful links for you to start off:

http://www.rhymezone.com/

http://www.rhymer.com/naming.html

Your business name should be available

If you have a great idea on how to name your business it does not automatically mean that it is available. There are few places you need to check your business name for availability.

Trademark

What is important when you are selecting your business name is to be proactive and sort out trademark issues beforehand. It is very likely that you can come up with an amazing name or even start to use it successfully but one day you’ll find out that it has been trademarked by another entity. This is highly unpleasant experience and might end up being fatal to your business.

So, it is of the highest importance to check whether the name you have chosen has been trademarked or not. Luckily, it can be done easily online in most countries. If this is not the case with your country, then check it with your local Trademark Office.

In case, your business name is available then it is recommended to register it as your own trademark and carry on your business activities in a risk-free manner.  For this, you need a spare budget to pay for registration fees or even hire a lawyer (if needed).

Trademark registration mainly depends on your individual circumstances. Compare time and cost of registration versus risks and then decide if you really need a trademark.

Many people do not register their trademarks until it is unavoidable. And they are fine. It is your decision and you take it on your own risk.

To make a long story short, it is highly recommended to register your business name as a trademark together with logo and any other intellectual property. This will save you time and money in a long run.

Domain Name

Another big and important concern can be your domain name.

As you are probably aware, online presence is a must for every business/startup today.

So, when you are choosing a name for your company, you should take the name of your website (your domain) into consideration. The best scenario it is when your business name matches your domain name.

However, there are literally millions of active websites out there and it is likely that the name you have on your mind is already taken. That’s why you should check whether the name is still available. So, make sure you arrange it in time.

Go to our search page and search for your potential business names. When you decide with your business name buy your domain name immediately. You never know who is currently searching for the same name among billions of internet users and how long it is going to be available. Domain names are very cost-effective at Mill, so there is no excuse for not having one (prices start from as low as $3.99 per year!).

Depending on the purpose and goals of your business/startup you may find top level domains different than .COM. Those sometimes are more attractive and they are usually more available.

Our search system includes tons of different top level domains, so just go and see what is there for you.

Create a ranking table

As a final step, we recommend using our ranking table to choose the best name for your business.

Take all the criteria listed in this article and create the points-based ranking table. Give points to short-listed names based on criteria and find the winner(s).

Find below free Google Doc with ready-made ranking table template.

Mill For Business - Name Ranking Table

BONUS TIP!

As a bonus tip, we recommend you to split your whole selection process into four simple steps:

  • First set criteria using this article

  • Brainstorm and create a long-list of potential business names

  • Filter names according to criteria and short-list them

  • Choose an amazing Business Name

As you can see, the name selection process requires some research and time, but in the end, you will know that your business has a unique name that will make you visible on the market and eventually bring you excellent outcomes.

Additionally, you can also check the availability of your UK company name in our Company Formation System. It is super quick, so you will have your results in seconds.

Further Reading: What Names Are Acceptable for UK Limited Companies?

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