If you’ve decided to take the limited company route, one of your first tasks will be to choose a company name. Here, we look at the naming rules set by Companies House, and other factors which will influence the name you use for your contracting business.
Getting started with company names
- You want to give a good impression to prospective contracting clients and recruiters, so think of professional, concise names for your company – names which are memorable, and unambiguous.
- You may want to include words related to your skill-set, or industry, but be careful not to use any brand names (see ‘trade marks’ below).
- Bear in mind that you may want to diversify your business interests in the future, or focus on different types of technology, so a generic company name may be more suitable.
- It is easy to register a change of company name with Companies House should you need to do so, but you’ll need to update your bank, accountant, recruitment agents, and any other service providers with your new name.
Is your chosen name unique?
- All company names must end with ‘limited’ or ‘ltd’, unless your registered office is in Wales, in which case you may elect to use ‘cyf’ or ‘cyfyngedig’. Unsurprisingly, most companies based in Wales use ‘ltd’ rather than ‘cyf’!
- Companies House will not allow you to select a name which is deemed to be the ‘same as’ an existing company. For example, the following names would be considered to be the ‘same’ for incorporation purposes: S and S Limited, Sands Ltd, and Sands.co.uk Limited.
- To get started, use WebCheck to see if your proposed name is available.
Do a trade mark search
- Perform a search for your proposed company name on the Intellectual Property Office website, just in case a Trade Mark exists for the same (or very similar) words or expression.
- Company and Trade Mark laws are different. Simply registering a company name doesn’t give you the right to use the name as a trademark, nor does owning a trademarked expression automatically give you the right to use the same words as a limited company name.
- Many people don’t bother undertaking a trade mark search, but we’ve included this step for the sake of completeness. It only takes a few seconds to carry out a search.
A matching web address?
- It makes sense to search for available domain names when you’re choosing a company name. This will make your company’s identity seamless, especially in an age where everything from applying for a contract to invoicing your agent takes place online.
- Although many of the more ‘obvious’ domain names have already been taken, you will hopefully find a combination of words to use both for your official business name, and online (e.g. ‘Decode Technology Limited’, and decodetechnology.co.uk).
- If you’re going for a ‘belt and braces’ approach, we’d always advise that you try to secure both the .co.uk and .com domains if at all possible.
- Use one of the leading domain name providers to search for available names (e.g. 123-Reg, Easily, GoDaddy, etc.)
Sensitive words and expressions
- You cannot use a name which implies some kind of connection with any Government agency or organisation.
- You mustn’t include any offensive words.
- You mustn’t use any names which imply a particular status, pre-eminence, or abilities. Some words, such as ‘Accredited’, or ‘Banking’ must be approved by the Secretary of State. Others (such as ‘Olympic’, ‘Solicitor’ and ‘Architect’ must be approved by specific organisations.
- Read the official guidance – ‘incorporation and names (GP1)’ on the GOV.UK site.