People operating as sole traders or in general partnerships can trade under their own names, or choose a different business name.
Sole trader, partnership and limited partnership names - the rules
If you decide to use a business name, it must not:
- be offensive
- include the terms public limited company (plc), limited (ltd), limited liability partnership (LLP)
- contain prescribed or sensitive words and expressions, unless you have obtained permission to use them - see use of sensitive words and expressions in business names
If you register a limited partnership you must include either 'Limited Partnership' or 'LP' at the end of your business name.
For more information see:
- rules for naming your business
- naming your business as a sole trader
- naming your partnership
- name your limited company
Check if another business is using your proposed business name
Before using your chosen name, check that it isn't already being used.
If a sole trader at the other end of the country is using it, there may not be a problem. However, if another local business, company or national firm is using it, you should choose a different name. Follow the steps below:
- Check local phone books, business directories and the internet.
- Make sure your proposed name - or something similar - hasn't been registered by a company.
- Make sure the name isn't too similar to a word or expression that has been registered as a trade mark.
- Search for an available company name and trade mark.
Structure your business
Name your business
Register your business
Choose your premises