As a contractor, freelancer, or small business owner, you may have considered the benefits of operating through a limited company. This structure offers several advantages, including limited liability protection, tax benefits, and enhanced credibility. However, establishing a limited company requires careful consideration and adherence to specific legal guidelines.

One of the first and most important considerations is how to come up with a business name that is relevant to your business and fully compliant with government regulations.

Your Company Formations is here to guide you through registering your limited company with Companies House, the UK's official registrar of companies. We will ensure that your company is named in compliance with HMRC regulations and that all necessary documentation is completed accurately and promptly.

One of the first decisions for your new company is choosing the correct name. This critical step needs plenty of careful consideration for many reasons.

The importance of choosing the right company name

Your company name will be more than just an identifier; it is the foundation of your brand and an essential element of your marketing strategy. When selecting a name for your limited company, it is crucial to consider its connection to your sector, trade, and service offering.

A well-chosen name can strengthen your brand identity, attract potential customers, and set you apart from competitors.

Your company name is a long-term investment, so it's essential to choose one that can adapt to your company's growth and expansion. Consider whether your chosen name will still be relevant and appropriate if you expand your product line, enter new markets, or even begin trading overseas.

A name that can seamlessly transition with your company's evolution will save you time, money, and the hassle of rebranding in the future.

Avoiding 'Same as' Names: Protecting Your Brand

While you may want to brainstorm some relevant company name suggestions, before you make your final choice, you will need to ensure another company has not already taken it. You need to confirm your company name is available to avoid any last-minute disappointments or waste funds on producing official letterheads, marketing materials, or website branding.

When selecting a company name, it is vital to ensure that it doesn't closely resemble or infringe upon the existing trademarks of other businesses. Similar or 'same as' names can lead to confusion among consumers, potential legal disputes, and damage to your brand reputation. Conduct thorough research to ensure your chosen name is unique without creating conflicts.

Dodging the 'Same as' Dilemma

While you might think that adding a period, hyphen, or unique character to an existing company name is a clever loophole, the registrar won't be fooled. These subtle tweaks create names considered "same as" and are therefore off-limits.

Even if your chosen name doesn't exactly match an existing one, it could still be rejected if it is too similar in meaning. For instance, Kettles4U and Kettles4you might sound similar enough to cause confusion among consumers, leading to a rejection.

Punctuation, 'www', and Connecting Words

When the registrar compares your company name to others, they will take a minimalist approach, ignoring punctuation, 'www', and connecting words like "or" and "and". So, don't rely on these elements to make your name unique.

You might still have a chance if you are set on a name that closely resembles an existing one. Obtaining written confirmation of no objection from the business you may be in conflict with could be your ticket to using a similar name.

If your company is part of the same group as another company with a similar name, you might be granted permission to use a similar name. In this case, your company's affiliation with the existing company will be considered.

Playing It Safe: Avoiding Trademark Infringement

A registered trademark protects a company's name, logo, or slogan, ensuring that others cannot use it without permission. Therefore, your proposed company name should not infringe upon any existing trademarks.

If you are a contractor specialising in a particular platform, such as WordPress or Java, be extra cautious when using these trademarked names in your company name. While you may be familiar with these platforms, using their trademarked names without proper authorisation could land you in hot water.

In some instances, trademarked terms may be allowed under the doctrine of fair use. Fair use permits using trademarked material for purposes such as criticism, commentary, or parody. However, determining fair use can be complex and may involve legal consultation.

To avoid the hassle and potential legal repercussions of trademark infringement, it's always best to err on the side of caution. Conduct thorough research to ensure your chosen company name doesn't conflict with existing trademarks.

Limited or Ltd?

When naming your limited company, you will face an intriguing decision: "Limited" or "Ltd"? Both options serve the same purpose – indicating the limited liability status of your company – but they differ in their presentation.

Limited: The Full Expression

Choosing "Limited" provides the full and formal designation of your company's legal structure. It exudes a sense of tradition and professionalism, often preferred by established businesses or those seeking a more formal image.

LTD: A Touch of Brevity

On the other hand, opting for "LTD" offers a concise and modern alternative. This abbreviation is widely recognised and conveys the same limited liability status, appealing to businesses seeking a more contemporary and streamlined approach.

While both options carry equal weight, one key distinction is flexibility. If you choose "Limited," you can shorten it to "LTD" whenever you wish. Conversely, if you select "LTD," you'll be committed to that abbreviated form.

Operating as a limited company can enhance your brand's reputation, signalling a degree of professionalism and stability, so including it in your company name can help make it more obvious to potential clients that you take your business seriously. Potential clients, partners, and investors may perceive your company as more trustworthy and reliable, potentially influencing their decision to do business with you.

Avoiding Offensive, Sensitive, and Regulated Terms

When crafting your company name, avoiding terms that could offend, confuse, or mislead customers is essential. Offensive or sensitive terms can damage your brand reputation and alienate potential customers.

If you feel using such a word is warranted, you must provide additional documentation to justify your choice. Your request will be accepted with proper justification.

You also need only to use terms that imply a connection to professional regulatory bodies or government departments with explicit permission from the relevant authority. For instance, if you are considering using "Dentistry" in your company name, you will need approval from the General Dental Council. Similarly, "Insurance" requires authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Here is a breakdown of the relevant authorities for specific regulated terms:
  • Dentistry: General Dental Council
  • Insurance: Financial Conduct Authority
  • Parliamentary: The Corporate Officer of the House of Lords and House of Commons
  • Accredited: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
  • Fund: Financial Conduct Authority

You can find a complete list of sensitive terms and specified words and expressions here.

Using Professional Terms

Professional bodies play a crucial role in ensuring the integrity and reputation of their respective professions. One way they achieve this is by governing the use of specific terms, such as "architect" and "nurse." This protects the public from unqualified individuals misrepresenting themselves as professionals and potentially causing harm.

For instance, the Architects Registration Board (ARB) regulates the use of the title "architect." Only individuals who have met the ARB's rigorous qualifications and training requirements can use this title. This ensures that the public can be confident when engaging with an architect that they are dealing with a qualified and experienced professional.

Similarly, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates the use of the titles "nurse" and "midwife." Only individuals registered with the NMC and who have met their education, training, and practice standards can use these titles. This safeguards the public by ensuring they receive care from qualified and competent nurses and midwives.

Regulating the use of professional titles in company names is about protecting the public and upholding the profession's reputation. By restricting the use of these titles to qualified individuals, professional bodies help maintain the high standards of practice and expertise associated with their respective professions. This, in turn, helps to build public trust and confidence in the profession.

Company name ideas UK

Choosing the right name for your limited company requires careful consideration and a touch of inspiration. It is not just about picking a catchy phrase; it is about crafting a name that encapsulates your brand's essence and sets you apart from the competition.

Brainstorming your new business name can be an exciting and creative process. To tap into different perspectives, consider involving your family and friends. Host a fun brainstorming session where everyone can share their ideas based on your company's mission, values, and target audience.

To kick-start the process, try playful word association games or ask participants to think of names that are memorable, easy to pronounce, and reflect your brand's unique personality. Remember, company name suggestions can come from the most unexpected sources! Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Future-Proof Your Name: A Strategic Choice for Growth: If you envision your company expanding into new horizons, opt for a name that won't confine you to a single sector. Your name should be flexible to adapt as your business evolves, whether venturing into new markets or introducing new products or services.
  • Strike the Right Tone: Professionalism vs. Playfulness: Your company name should reflect the tone of your industry and the image you want to project. If credibility and expertise are paramount, choose a name that conveys professionalism and trustworthiness. Conversely, if your sector values creativity and innovation, embrace a more personable and light-hearted tone. Let your name evoke the desired emotion and set the right first impression.
  • Marketing Magic: A Name that Captures Attention: In today's digital age, your company name should seamlessly integrate with your online presence. Choose a name that's easy to remember, spell, and type into a search engine. Consider the URL spelling; ensure it's clear and intuitive, as merging words can create confusion.
  • Unleashing Your Creativity: A Name that Stands Out: Your company name should be distinctive and memorable, setting you apart from the crowd. Avoid generic or overly descriptive names that blend into the background. Instead, aim for a name that sparks curiosity and leaves a lasting impression.
  • Legal Considerations: Avoiding Trademark Pitfalls: Conduct thorough research before committing to your chosen name to ensure it doesn't infringe on any existing trademarks. Respecting intellectual property rights is crucial for avoiding legal disputes and protecting your brand's integrity.

Your company name is more than just a label; it is the foundation of your brand identity. It is the first touchpoint with potential customers, shaping their perception of your company. Choose a name you are proud of, one that resonates with your values and aspirations, and one that sets the stage for your company's success.

What's The Difference Between a Company Name and a Trading Name?

Your company's name plays a dual role, serving as its official legal identity and the moniker customers recognise in the marketplace. The company name, typically ending with "limited" or "ltd," is the legal entity used for registration and carries significant tax and financial implications. It's the name that appears on official documents and contracts, establishing your company's legal standing and credibility.

In contrast, the trading name is used to interact with customers and the public in your day-to-day business operations. The name appears on your shopfront, business vehicles, website, and marketing materials, shaping how customers perceive your brand. Unlike the company name, the trading name doesn't include legal designations like "limited" or "LLP," allowing for more flexibility and creativity in branding.

The distinction between the company and trading names balances legal formality and brand identity. The company name ensures your business operates within the legal framework, while the trading name allows you to connect with customers in a more personalised and memorable way. Both names play crucial roles in establishing your business's presence and reputation.

How Can I Stop Others from Using my Company Name?

Your company name is your brand's cornerstone. It attracts customers and sets you apart from your competitors. But what happens when others try to capitalise on your success by using your name?

That is where trademarks come in. Trademarks act as legal shields, protecting your company name from unauthorised use by others. By registering your company name as a trademark, you gain exclusive rights to its use, preventing competitors from mimicking your brand and confusing consumers.

With a trademark, you can take legal action against anyone who infringes upon your company name. This protection safeguards your brand reputation, ensuring your hard-earned success remains yours.

While your UK trademark protects your brand within the country's borders, venturing into the EU or international markets requires separate trademark registration procedures. Each region has trademark regulations, ensuring your brand is adequately protected wherever you operate.

Can I Change my Company Name at Companies House?

As your company grows and evolves, you may find that your original name no longer reflects your current brand identity or business direction. If this is the case, changing your company name is a straightforward process that allows you to adapt to the changing landscape of your industry and better represent your company's values and offerings.

You must submit an NM01 form to Companies House to change your company name. This form is an official notice of your intention to change your company's name. To complete the form accurately, gather the following essential details:

  • Your company number
  • Your original company name
  • Your desired new company name
  • A copy of the special resolution passed by your company's shareholders approving the name change
  • Your signature as a company director

Once you receive the Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name from Companies House, you can officially start trading under your new company name.


The company naming process can be daunting, even for the most imaginative entrepreneurs. However, following these guidelines can transform this process into a smooth and efficient journey.

With a clear understanding of the naming requirements and a touch of creativity, you will be well-equipped to select a name that perfectly encapsulates your company's essence and sets it up for a successful future.

Recommended further reading:

Get a deeper understanding of trademarks and their importance in our post, Registering a Trademark in the UK.

If you have a killer name for your business but are not quite ready to launch your company, you may wonder if you can reserve your perfect company name in advance. Read our post, Can You Reserve a Company Name without Forming a Limited Company?

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