Guide

Set up a limited company

Name your limited company

You must choose a name for your business if you’re setting up a private limited company.

There are different rules for business partnerships and sole traders - see naming your partnership and naming your business as a sole trader

Your name can’t be the same as another registered company’s name. If your name is too similar to another company’s name you may have to change it if someone makes a complaint.

Your name must usually end in either ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’.

Check the Companies House register.

‘Same as’ names

‘Same as’ names includes those where the only difference to an existing name is:

  • certain punctuation
  • certain special characters, for example the ‘plus’ sign
  • a word or character that’s similar in appearance or meaning to another from the existing name
  • a word or character used commonly in UK company names

For example, 'Hands UK Ltd’ and ‘Hand’s Ltd’ are the same as ‘Hands Ltd’.

You can only register a ‘same as’ name if:

  • your company is part of the same group as the company or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with the existing name
  • you have written confirmation that the company or LLP has no objection to your new name

GOV.UK provides further guidance on requirements when naming your company

‘Too like’ names

You may have to change your name if someone complains and Companies House agrees it’s ‘too like’ a name registered before yours.

For example, ‘Easy Electrics For You Ltd’ is the same as ‘EZ Electrix 4U Ltd’

Companies House will contact you if they think your name is too like another - and tell you what to do.

Other rules

Your company name can’t be offensive.

Your name also can’t contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression, or suggest a connection with government or local authorities, unless you get permission.

For example, to use ‘Accredited’ in your company’s name, you need permission from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

GOV.UK outlines which words you need permission to use, and who from.

Trading names

You can trade using a different name to your registered name. This is known as a ‘business name’.

Business names must not:

  • be the same as an existing trade mark
  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

You’ll need to register your name as a trade mark if you want to stop people from trading under your business name.

You can’t use another company’s trade mark as your business name.

Displaying your name

There are rules that you must follow when displaying your name on signs, stationery, promotional material and invoices. For example, you must display a sign showing your company name at your registered company address and wherever your business operates. If you’re running your business from home, you don’t need to display a sign there.

Know the rules you must follow on displaying your company name.

When you don’t have to use ‘limited’ in your company name

You don’t have to use ‘limited’ in your name if your company is a registered charity or limited by guarantee and your articles of association say your company:

  • promotes or regulates commerce, art, science, education, religion, charity or any profession
  • can’t pay its shareholders, for example through dividends
  • requires each shareholder to contribute to company assets if it’s wound up during their membership, or within a year of them stopping being a shareholder