Incorporation and names guidance

2 Apr 2024

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Companies House guidance sets out the main requirements for incorporating a company in the UK. The guidance entitled Incorporation and Names also provides advice on checking which names are acceptable to Companies House. The guidance has been updated for new measures under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act.

Choosing a company name can be one of the most important considerations for a new business. The name must meet certain legal requirements and at the same time be an effective marketing tool. One of the first steps after choosing a name is to check that it is actually available. It is also important to also check the UK Intellectual Property Office trademarks register to ensure that the proposed name does not infringe an existing trademark.

There are also a number of restrictions set out in legislation. These restrictions include:

  • The name of a private company limited by shares or guarantee must end with 'limited' or 'Ltd'. 
  • The name of a public company must end with 'public limited company' or 'plc'.
  • Certain expressions and abbreviations which describe a particular form of company can only be used at the end of a name, such as 'Limited Liability Partnership' or 'Community Interest Company'.
  • A name that could suggest a connection with the UK government, a devolved administration, a local authority or a specified public authority.
  • A name that includes sensitive words or expressions included in regulations.
  • A name that includes words that would constitute an offence.
  • An offensive name.
  • A name which is the 'same as' an existing name on the index.
  • The use of certain characters, signs, symbols and punctuation in a company name.

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