What is in a name?

One of the first things a budding entrepreneur considers is what to call their business.

If you intend to incorporate your business as a limited company, the registration process will filter out unacceptable names and names that are too similar to a company already registered at Companies House. However, this registration process can create situations where an existing company thinks that the name you have registered is too close to their own and may challenge you to change your company name.

If you set up as a sole trader there is no official registry of business names, but you must still be wary of using certain expressions.

In certain circumstances you can write to a particular organisation or government department to get clearance to use a restricted name or phrase in a name.

For example, you should avoid, or seek to permission to use, the use of the words: association, bank, British, charity, England, government, Her Majesty, institute, King, mutual, NHS, patent, police, Post Office, Queen, registrar or regulator, society, Trade Union, trust, tribunal, and University.

This list is by no means complete. There is a fairly comprehensive list of names and expressions to avoid on the GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/incorporation-and-names/annex-a-sensitive-words-and-expressions-or-words-that-could-imply-a-connection-with-government.

If you need advice we can help. We have advised numerous businesses on how best to set up and run a new business. Please call to arrange an initial consultation.

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