Choose a company name

You must choose a name for your business if you’re setting up a private limited company.

There are different rules for sole traders and business partnerships.

Your name cannot be the same as another registered company’s name. If your name is too similar to another company’s name or trade mark you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint.

Your name must usually end in either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’. You can include the Welsh equivalents ‘Cyfyngedig’ and ‘Cyf’ instead if you registered the company in Wales.

‘Same as’ names

‘Same as’ names includes those where the only difference to an existing name is:

  • certain punctuation
  • certain special characters, for example the ‘plus’ sign
  • a word or character that’s similar in appearance or meaning to another from the existing name
  • a word or character used commonly in UK company names

Example

‘Hands UK Ltd’ and ‘Hand’s Ltd’ are the same as ‘Hands Ltd’.

You can only register a ‘same as’ name if:

  • your company is part of the same group as the company or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the existing name
  • you have written confirmation that the company or LLP has no objection to your new name

You can read more guidance on naming your company if you’re not sure.

‘Too like’ names

You may have to change your name if someone complains and Companies House agrees it’s ‘too like’ a name registered before yours.

Example

‘Easy Electrics For You Ltd’ is the same as ‘EZ Electrix 4U Ltd’

Companies House will contact you if they think your name is too like another - and tell you what to do.

Other rules

Your company name cannot be offensive.

Your name also cannot contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression, or suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you get permission.

Example

To use ‘Accredited’ in your company’s name, you need permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Check which words you need permission to use, and who from.

Trading names

You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.

Business names must not:

  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

If your business name is too similar to another company’s trade mark you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint.

Displaying your name

There are rules you must follow about displaying your company name.

When you do not have to use ‘limited’ in your company name

You do not have to use ‘limited’ in your name if your company is a registered charity or limited by guarantee and your articles of association say your company:

  • promotes or regulates commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession
  • cannot pay its shareholders, for example through dividends
  • requires each shareholder to contribute to company assets if it’s wound up during their membership, or within a year of them stopping being a shareholder
  1. Step 1 Check if setting up a limited company is right for you

    1. Check what a private limited company is

    How you set up your business depends on what sort of work you do. It can also affect the way you pay tax and get funding.

    Check if you should set up as one of the following instead:

    1. Get help deciding how to set up your business
  2. Step 2 Choose a name

  3. Step 3 Choose directors and a company secretary

    You must appoint a director but you do not have to appoint a company secretary.

    1. Find out what directors are responsible for
    2. Check who can be a director or company secretary
  4. Step 4 Decide who the shareholders or guarantors are

  5. and Identify people with significant control (PSC) over your company

    For example, anyone with voting rights or more than 25% of the shares.

    1. Find out what counts as a PSC
  6. Step 5 Prepare documents agreeing how to run your company

    You need to prepare a 'memorandum of association' and 'articles of association'.

    1. Find out how to create a memorandum and articles of association
  7. Step 6 Check what records you'll need to keep

  8. Step 7 Register your company

    You'll need to register an official address and choose a SIC code - this identifies what your company does.

    1. Check the rules for company addresses
    2. Check what your SIC code is
    3. Register your company with Companies House

    Most people can register for Corporation Tax at the same time as registering with Companies House.

    If you cannot, register separately with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after you’ve registered your company with Companies House.

    1. Register with HMRC for Corporation Tax