Company Names

New rules for naming your Contractor Limited Company

6 February 2015

Choosing a company name for your new business can often be a complex decision with you having to avoid similarly named businesses and exclude banned words such as implying you are a Government Body or a member of an industry/trade body (i.e. the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) control the use of the term Chartered Accountant).

As your Contractor Accountant, Umbrella Accountants would be happy to talk through your Company Name options prior to setting-up your Limited Company.

Some contractors use their own name and the service their business will provide in their company name while others chose something unconnected some try to be original or humorous. 

Using your own name implies that only you will be providing the service and could hinder you if you look to expand and employ others in the future.

One important consideration can be is the domain name for my business available in case I expand and want a website in the future? Ideally if you are based in the UK dealing with UK companies the best domain extension is a .co.uk. Unfortunately most dictionary word domain names have gone and to buy them, if they are for sale, can be expensive.

Your Company Name can also be changed in the future if you decide you would like to change it. Your Company Number stays the same showing you are still the same business.

If you trade through a Limited Company then your business will end in the words Limited or Ltd.

The good news is that Companies House have issued new guidance on naming your business which now makes it more likely the name you want will be allowed. They have reduced the words that are banned and reduced the words that are omitted from existing company names when deciding if your name is the same.

For example when we were registering Umbrella-Company Limited we originally wanted to be called Umbrella Limited but because Umbrella (UK) already existed and Companies House excludes UK from existing names it deemed that it was too similar to an already existing business name. Similarly when we tried Umbrella Company Limited it excluded the word Company and therefore did not allow that name for the same reason. By inserting a dash between the 2 words (i.e. Umbrella-Company Limited) meant it treats the whole phrase as one term and hence it was then unique.

The full Companies House Guidance on naming your Contractor Limited Company is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/400693/GP1_Incorporation_Feb_2015.pdf

You can check the availability of your chosen company name at: http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo

Just tick the “Company Name Availability Search” option.

You must also avoid using a trademarked term or phrase in your company name.

The key changes to the Companies House Business Names Guidance are:

  • Words to be ignored when considering if an existing company name is similar now exclude EXPORT, GROUP, HOLDINGS, IMPORTS, INTERNATIONAL and SERVICES and Welsh equivalents.
  • There has been an increase to the characters that can be used in a Company Name.
  • Amendment to the list of expressions to be disregarded for the purposes of ‘same as’ (including their Welsh equivalents) are: & Co, and Co, & Company, and Company (and welsh equivalents).

Umbrella Accountants LLP are specialist Contractor Accountants and provide accountancy and taxation services for small owner managed businesses.