As you’re looking to build a brand or reputation, choosing and registering your company’s name is key. It’s the first thing your customers see on your website, business cards or invoices. Having a well-protected and unique name can make sure you stand out early on.

Registering your company’s name can be done easily and quickly online but does involve following some rules. Find out more about the registration process and how to stick to the rules in our guide below. 

We’ll show you: 

  • How to register your company name
  • How to protect your brand name
  • How Countingup can help you build your company

If you’ve just launched an exciting new small business venture and are looking to start a company, learn about how you can register your company’s name and how Countingup can help take care of your finance admin as you trade.

How to register your company’s name

Registering a company name should be completed with Companies House via either the online portal or postal application. Online applications are cheaper and faster to complete, which could mean the difference between using the name you want and not.

The standard format for company names in the UK usually requires them to end in ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’. This specifically denotes that your business is a limited company and will become important later on if you choose not to use your company name as you trade (explained below).

Step 1: Checking if your name isn’t already taken

Even if you have an idea for a name, you might find it’s already taken in some fashion. You can find out if the name you’d like is already taken using the Companies House name availability checker and trademark portal

Companies House won’t allow two unrelated businesses to have the same or similar names. This is to help consumers differentiate between businesses and to protect business brands from being copied. As a consequence, Companies House also won’t allow a new business to register ‘same as’ names. These are names that are minimally different to existing ones: for example, via punctuation use or minor word substitutions. 

You can register a ‘same as’ name if you already own the business the new one is similar to, or, if you receive written confirmation from the existing company that they have no objections to your new usage.

Companies House may also require you to change your name after you register if it’s considered ‘too like’ another. This can happen if you don’t explore variations to the name you’d like. As you’re checking if your preferred name is already taken, consider small adaptations or similar versions.

Step 2: Avoiding ‘sensitive or ‘offensive’ terms

Companies House also won’t allow you to use words or terms in your company name that are considered offensive or sensitive. The latter are name contents that may incorrectly suggest a relationship with the government or use protected terms (such as ‘Accredited’). Find out which terms are considered sensitive and how to get permission if you need it via the information here.

Step 3: Disclosing other names you plan to use 

As mentioned previously, you can register a company name but trade under another name. This is called your ‘business name’ and has similar restrictions requiring you to avoid sensitive or offensive terms and being unique from other businesses. However, business names are not allowed to end in ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’ the same way your company is, as this would be misleading. 

Step 4: Registering your company

Registering your name is done at the same time as you register the rest of your company’s details with Companies House. 

As you register, you’ll need to provide some information about the owners of your company, a business address as well as two key documents called a ‘memorandum of association’ and the ‘articles of association’ of your company. 

For more information and a step-by-step guide on registering a company, check out our dedicated article How to Register a Company

How to protect your brand name

Being able to protect your company name can help you avoid legal troubles from anyone new seeking to use it. There are a number of ways of doing this, depending on what your name is. 

Registering your company with Companies House provides a lot of protection in the first place. However, a secondary strategy many companies use is applying for a trade mark. 

Unfortunately, not all terms or branded content is protectable as there are some restrictions. Check if your name can be trademarked using this online tool and apply for a trade mark for your business with Companies House.

If you’ve not checked your proposed terms beforehand, you may run into objections from other trademark holders. Objections can arise for a number of reasons, typically because a business feels your application is too similar to theirs. Objections may not always be reasonable so you can respond to and challenge objections if this is the case. 

How Countingup can help you build your company

Running a company with Countingup is easy. The app automates financial admin for thousands of business owners across the UK. 

With your business current account, accounting software and tax filing system in one place, you can save time and stress using our easy-to-use app.

Give yourself a head start and focus on increasing your sales, and growing your business instead of wasting time on accounting and tax compliance. 

With our automated expense reminders and invoicing tools, you can be sure your books are accurate and your tax bill is taken care of. 

Find out more here, or download the Countingup app from the App Store or Google Play Store and sign up for free.