Can I call my company whatever I like?

The legal do's and don'ts for naming your business

Words or expressions deemed to be offensive are not allowed by Companies House. You will have to exercise your own judgement as to what they are, but if they include swearing or phrases generally considered insulting then the chances are they are not permissible.

There are also phrases that are deemed to be ‘sensitive’ and you will have to gain permission to use them before you do.

There are five main groups of sensitive words; these are words that:

  • Suggest your business is of national importance such as British, Scottish, national or international
  • Depict a special status or authority such as association, Chamber of Commerce or Council
  • Describe a particular function like a charity or trust
  • Refer to a specialised activity such as surveyor or chemist
  • Give the impression that your business is connected to the government or the royal family

A full list of sensitive words, and the organisations you must seek permission from, is available on the Companies House website.

Limited companies

If you have chosen to run a limited company then your company name must end with limited or Ltd. Also, this word must not appear anywhere else in your name so Limited Ltd is not allowed. Once you have chosen your name and it made sure that it complies with the rules then you can apply to have it registered at Companies House.

Sole traders

If you are a sole trader then you can trade under your name and/or your business partner’s name if you have one. However, this is not obligatory and you can be far more creative if you wish.

Sole traders, however, are not allowed to use Ltd or plc in their name as it incorrectly describes their business.

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