With over 4.5 million companies registered in the UK each year, the importance of ensuring your company name is unique cannot be overstated.

Before you can embark on your business journey, you need to ensure your ideal company name hasn’t already been taken and that it adheres to certain standards set by regulatory authorities.

This is where a company name checker comes in, which can tell you immediately if your chosen name is available.

How to Check Company Name Availability?

When starting a business in the UK, the first step is to see if the name you want is available. This can be done by searching the Companies House register, which lists all companies that have been registered in the UK.

The process of checking company name availability isn’t just about finding a unique name. It is vital the name you choose does not too closely resemble another company name, as this could lead to confusion or legal disputes in the future.

It is also important to be aware that even if a company has been dissolved, its name may still be unavailable for use. This is because Companies House may have granted the company a “grace period” during which it can reclaim its name.

To check the availability of a company name, simply the Companies House online name search tool. This tool is free to use and provides instant results.

When choosing a company name, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The name should be unique and memorable.
  • The name should be relevant to your business activities.
  • The name should not be too similar to the names of other companies.
  • The name should not be offensive or misleading.

Using the Company Name Availability Checker at Companies House

Company Name Search Box

The simplest and most straightforward way to check the availability of your company name is to use the Companies House online name search tool. This tool is directly linked to the Companies House register, which lists all companies that have been registered in the UK.

To use the name search tool, simply enter your desired company name into the search box and click the “Search” button. If the name is available, you will see a message that says, “This name is available.” If the name is already taken or too similar to an existing name, you will see a message that says, “This name is not available.”

Use the Free Tide Limited Company Name Checker

We’ve partnered with challenger bank Tide to offer our readers a chance to check a company name, register it for free, and get a free business bank account at the same.

Simply click the link to visit Tide.

  • Tide pays the £12 incorporation fee on your behalf.
  • Apply within minutes in one streamlined process.
  • Receive your certificate of incorporation within hours. info
  • BONUS: Get Tide Accounting software free for 6 months

Factors to Bear in Mind before you Check Business Name Availability

The name must be unique

Your company name must be unique and not identical or too similar to the name of any other company already registered in the UK. This is to prevent confusion among consumers and to avoid potential legal disputes.

There are some exceptions to this rule, such as if the two companies are part of the same group or if one company has the consent of the other company to use a similar name.

The name must not contain sensitive or restricted words or expressions

The use of certain words or expressions in a company name can suggest an official affiliation or indicate a specific status that the company does not possess. For example, the words “Royal,” “Government,” or “Banking” can only be used under certain conditions or with the appropriate permissions.

If you are unsure whether a particular word or expression is allowed in a company name, you should contact Companies House for clarification.

In the UK, all private limited companies must include the suffix “Limited” or its abbreviation “Ltd” at the end of their name. This is to indicate to the public that the company is a limited liability company, which means that the shareholders’ liability for the company’s debts is limited to the amount of their investment.

The “Limited” suffix is automatically added to the company’s name by Companies House, but the company can choose how to display it on its official documentation. For example, the company could use “Limited” or “Ltd” in full, or it could use a stylized version of the word.

There are a few exceptions to the rule that private limited companies must include the “Limited” suffix in their name. These exceptions include:

  • Companies that are registered charities
  • Companies that are limited by guarantee
  • Companies that are dormant companies
  • Companies that are incorporated in Wales, in which case the suffix “cyfyngedig” or “cyf” can be used instead of “Limited” or “Ltd”

The Risk of Trademark Infringement

In addition to ensuring that your company name includes the correct suffix, it is also important to avoid using a name that infringes on the trademark of another company. Trademark infringement occurs when a company uses a name that is similar to the name of another company that is already using the name for its goods or services.

Trademark infringement can result in legal action, including injunctions, damages, and even criminal prosecution. To avoid trademark infringement, it is important to do a trademark search before choosing a company name. This will help you to ensure that your chosen name is not already being used by another company.

Here are some tips for avoiding trademark infringement:

  • Do a trademark search before choosing a company name.
  • Choose a name that is unique and distinctive.
  • Avoid using names that are similar to the names of other companies, especially companies that offer similar products or services.
  • If you are unsure whether a particular name is available, you can contact a trademark attorney for assistance.

Is the Company Name Availability Service Free?

In most cases, using a Company Name Availability Service is not free. Typically, there’s a charge associated with checking and registering your company name officially. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some companies, like Tide, which offer business banking services, provide a unique incentive. As part of their package to attract new clients, they may cover the registration fee for your company name on your behalf. This means that if you choose to open a bank account with them, they will handle the cost of registering your chosen company name as a part of their service offering.

How Much Does it Cost to set up a Company Name UK?

The basic fee for registering a company online with Companies House is £12, payable by credit or debit card. This fee covers the standard application process for most companies. If you open a bank account with Tide, you can register a company for free.

What to Do If Your Company Name Is Taken?

If the name you want for your Limited Company is already taken, your primary option is to choose a different name. It’s crucial to select a name that is not only unique but also reflects your business identity and complies with the naming rules set by Companies House in the UK.

However, if you believe that the name has been taken opportunistically, meaning someone has registered it with the intention of preventing you from using it or to sell it to you at a high price, you might have legal grounds to challenge this. In such cases, you can make a claim to the Company Names Tribunal at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The Tribunal has the authority to adjudicate disputes over company names, including instances where a name is registered in a way that could be seen as abusive or unfair to another party’s business interest.

Can You Reserve a Company Name without Forming a Limited Company?

In the UK, you cannot reserve a company name without first registering your company with Companies House. However, if you’re not ready to start trading yet, you could consider forming your company and leaving it in a ‘dormant’ state until you’re ready to commence trading.

What are the Rules on Company Names in the UK?

  1. Your company name must be unique. You can’t use the same name as another registered company.
  2. If your name is too similar to another company’s name or trademark, you might have to change it if someone complains.
  3. Your company name usually ends with “Limited” or “Ltd.” If you register the company in Wales, you can use the Welsh equivalents “Cyfyngedig” and “Cyf” instead.

Can you Reserve a Company Name as a Sole Trader?

No, you cannot reserve a company name as a sole trader. Company name reservation is only applicable when registering a limited company or other formal business structures, not for sole traders.

Additional Considerations in Company Naming

When choosing a company name, there are a number of factors to consider in addition to the legal guidelines. These include:

  • Uniqueness and branding: Your company name should be distinctive and memorable, and it should accurately reflect your brand identity and values. It should also be free from negative connotations.
  • Longevity and versatility: Your company name should be relevant as your business grows and evolves. Avoid names that are too specific or limiting, as this could restrict your ability to expand or diversify your offerings in the future.
  • Availability: Make sure your chosen name is available as a domain name and social media handle.
  • Target audience: Consider your target audience when choosing a company name. The name should be easy for them to remember and pronounce, and it should resonate with their values and interests.
  • Legality: Make sure that the name you choose does not infringe on the trademarks of other companies.
  • Budget: There are a number of resources available to help you choose a company name, including online name generators and professional naming services. The cost of these resources will vary, so it is important to factor this into your budget.
  • Aesthetics and Logo Compatibility – Consider how your company name will look in logos, marketing materials, and digital platforms. A great name aligns seamlessly with visual branding elements, ensuring a cohesive brand presentation.

Domain Name Checks: Are They Included?

In the digital age, it’s not enough for your company name to be available for registration; it must also be available as a domain name. Your domain serves as the online address for your business and plays a critical role in digital marketing and branding.

The Importance of a Matching Domain

Having a domain name that mirrors your company name enhances brand consistency and credibility. It improves search engine rankings and aids in building a strong online presence.

Securing Social Media Handles

Beyond a domain, ensure that your company name (or a close variation) is available on major social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. This further solidifies your online brand identity.


How Do I Reserve a Company Name?

How Do I Check If My Company Name Is Available?

Can I Be Exempt From Using the Word “Limited” or “Ltd” in a Company Name?

What Are the Requirements for a Company Name?

What Words Cannot Be Used in a Company Name?

How Do I Trademark My Company Name?

Can I Use a Trading Name Different From My Company Name?

How Do I Ensure That My Company Name Does Not Infringe on Existing Trademarks or Intellectual Property Rights?