Frequently Asked Questions

Company Name

What restrictions are there on company names?
The Companies Act lays down some restrictions on company names, which are enforced by Companies House. Firstly they have a list of ‘sensitive words’ which cannot be used in a company name without certain approval or supporting evidence with the company incorporation application. Also they do not allow you to form your company with a name that is already registered with them or to use a name that is too similar to an existing company and is therefore deemed to be the same.
Which words are classed as sensitive?
There are a number of words that are classed as sensitive. Some of the most commonly used ones are:
  • Group
  • British
  • National
  • International
  • Holding(s)

For the full Companies House appendices of sensitive words visit the Companies House website.

Which criteria must I meet if I want to use a sensitive word?

Even if your proposed company name contains a sensitive word, you will usually still be able to use this name if you can satisfy either of the two tests that apply in most situations, as follows:

  • If you can prove that you will be acting in accordance with what the name suggests – If you use a word such as “group” you will need to show the association between that company and others to be able to classify it as a group.
  • If you can obtain approval from the relevant professional body - If the name contains a word that suggests a certain regulated profession, such as “dentist”, you will need to seek approval to use the word from the relevant professional body; in this case it would be the General Dental Council.
If I meet the Companies House criteria, what do I need to do to use this company name?
If you are forming your company with Wisteria Formations, all you need to do to use a sensitive word in your name is provide us with the supporting documentation showing that you can use it. We will then provide this to Companies House along with your company formation application so that your application should be successful. If you are unsure about what is required to meet the criteria of using a particular sensitive word you can always contact us and we will assist you.
Can I register a company name if there is already someone on the register with that name?
No, if there is already a company registered at Companies House with exactly the same name that you want to use then you will be unable to do so. However if the company listed with the name you want to register is dissolved, but is still shown on the register then you should be able to use it.
Will my application be accepted if there is already a company registered with a similar name?
Since the final implementation of the Companies Act 2006, ‘same as’ rules have become stricter. Certain suffixes will be disregarded if there is already a company on the register with that name. For example, if there is an existing company called ABC Limited an application for the incorporation of Limited will now probably be rejected. This is because Companies House deems them to be the same, as they only differ by minor elements. For more information about similar names visit the Companies House website.
Does registering the name with Companies House stop others from using the name?

By registering a company name with Companies House you can ensure that no one else can register a company with exactly the same name. You can also object if a company registers with a name that you deem as too similar to your own name. If you are successful then they would be directed to change their name by Companies House.

In addition, by having a company registered under a certain name you may also find it easier to prove that someone is “passing off” as you. This is where a third party trades using a similar company name in the hope of benefitting from the goodwill or reputation associated with the existing company name. However if you want further and more complete protection of your name and logo, you may want to register a trademark with the Intellectual Property Office. In such circumstances you should seek further legal advice from a patent attorney.