As a general idea, you have the freedom of choosing any name you consider fits for your company taking into consideration the industry, your objectives, target market, image strategy and so on. Still, you need to keep in mind several regulations that you can’t go around. Whatever name you choose for your company, it will have to end with Limited (LTD)Public Limited Company (PLC)Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or the Welsh equivalents according to the type of business entity you have created. You may apply for exemption from using Limited if you own a company limited by guarantee (LBG).

Names and trademarks

There are two important things you need to know about trademarks. First of all, before trying to register your name as a trademark you need to check the trademark register to make sure you can. Second, when you register a company or partnership name or when you use a business name, you don’t benefit from trademark protection until you register the actual trademark.

Could my choice of name be rejected?

In most of the cases you can have the name of your choice. Still, the name you choose as your business name can be rejected if it is offensive or its use would represent a criminal offense, and also if it is too similar with a name already registered or if it includes words such as limited, unlimited, public limited company, anywhere but at the end of the name. If your name contains words prescribed by regulations or it suggests a connection with the central or local government you might need the approval of the Secretary of State before it can be registered.

Sensitive Names

Sensitive names are words which may imply business pre-eminence, a particular status or a specific function and need approval of the Secretary of State or relevant official authority before use to ensure the name does not mislead the public.

Business names

Business name is the name you use in trading which can be different than your registered name but which must include the company name, names of your partners or your personal name if you are a sole trader.

Your business name can be used on stationary and correspondence but it needs to be different from an existing trademark, to avoid sensitive words unless you have permission to use them in your business name and it should include one of the following: ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’.

Different and unique: Your name must be different from other companies’ names meaning that it can’t be exactly the same or similar (‘same as’ or ‘too like’) to another registered name. Before choosing a name, make sure you have verified it in the  Companies House register, through the company name check,to see if it isn’t already in use.

‘Same as’ names

You are dealing with a ‘same as’ name if the only difference to a name already registered is:

  • Punctuation signs
  • Special characters such as the ‘plus’ or ‘&’ signs
  • One or more words you will find listed in the guide for company naming


If your company or LLP is part of a group of companies then you might get permission to use the same name or a similar one with the name of another company in the group.

You can use a ‘same as’ name if you obtain a written confirmation indicating that the other company or LLP agrees with you using a similar name.

‘Too like’ names

You are dealing with a too like name if the differences between your company’s name and another registered name are minor such as one or two letters.

If you are trying to register a ‘too like’ name, usually you will be contacted by a Companies House representative which will tell you exactly what to do.

Sensitive words and meaning:

  • You can’t use a ‘sensitive’ word or expression as or in your company’s name unless you get permission
  • You can’t use a company name that suggests a connection with government or local authorities
  • You can’t use offensive words or expressions as or in your company’s name

When registered, there are rules about how and where you must display your company name.

The Registrar verifies if two names are similar by ignoring punctuation, status and a number of general words, symbols or expressions such as the ones listed below:

  • Words: ‘and company’, ‘& company’, ‘and co’, ‘& co’.
  • Words and expressions: ‘biz’, ‘Cymru’, ‘co’, ‘’, ‘com’, ‘company’, ‘EU’, ‘Exports’, ‘Group’, ‘GB/Great Britain’, ‘Holdings’, ‘Imports’, ‘international’, ‘NI/Northern Ireland’, ‘net’, ‘org’, ‘org uk’, ‘’, ‘UK/United Kingdom’, ‘Wales’, etc.
  • Blank space (used between or after a word, expression, character, sign or symbol).
  • Punctuation: full stop, comma, colon, semi colon, hyphen, apostrophe, bracket, exclamation mark, question mark.
  • Permitted characters: * = # % + (if used as one of the first three characters in a name)
  • ‘s’ at the end of a name and ‘www’ at the beginning of a name
  • any but the first 60 characters in a name

In some situations you can have a name that is considered different enough to register and to receive later an objection, after it has been registered concerning the similarity to another name, case in which you might be directed to change it. Registering a name that is too similar to a business name already registered might submit you to the risk of legal action for ‘passing off’ if you adopted the name to take advantage of the image and credibility of another company. Even if your name has been accepted for registration, you are still not safe from such legal action.

Exceptions to “same as” rules

You can choose a similar name when your company is part of the same group with the company that has a similar name to yours and differs only by certain specified words and expressions (such as biz, co, co uk,, com, etc.), but you still need the consent of the registered company and you must file the written consent with your application confirming also that you are part of the same group.

The rule says that if you own a private limited company in UK its name must end in ‘Limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘Cyfyngedig’ or ‘Cyf’ (the Welsh equivalents).

Still, there are a few situations in which you can submit an application to not use ‘limited’ or the other equivalents in your name. These situations are:

  • Your organisation is a charity or a sports club
  • Your company is limited by guarantee

Another situation in which you can apply for not using ‘limited’ is if your articles of association say that your company requires its members to contribute to company assets if the company it is wound up during their membership, that your company can’t pay its members, it needs to invest the income on promoting its objects or has as activity art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession.