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 if company names are available?
When setting up a business in the UK, one of the first steps is to check the availability of your desired company name. 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 is not just about finding a unique name. It is also important to ensure that 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, you can use 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
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.”
It is important to note 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.
By using the Companies House name search tool, you can be sure that your chosen company name is available and that you are not infringing on the rights of any other company.
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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.
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.
Check Company Name Domain Availability
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?
To reserve a company name in the UK, you may either register the name directly with Companies House during the company incorporation process or engage a company’s formation agent who will register the name on your behalf. This action ensures the exclusivity of the chosen name, in compliance with legal guidelines.
How Do I Check If My Company Name Is Available?
To check if your desired company name is available in the UK, you can use the Companies House WebCHeck service or consult a company’s formation agent. They will search the current register for existing or similar names, ensuring that your chosen name complies with legal guidelines and is distinct from other registered entities.
Can I Be Exempt From Using the Word “Limited” or “Ltd” in a Company Name?
An exemption applies only to a private company limited by guarantee, provided the articles of association meet specific requirements. Application for this exemption can be made during registration or post-incorporation using the relevant form.
What Are the Requirements for a Company Name?
Your chosen name must be unique and not too similar to other registered companies. It should not contain sensitive or offensive words and must comply with Companies House requirements, including the use of “Limited” or “Ltd.”
What Words Cannot Be Used in a Company Name?
Certain words are prohibited, such as those implying connections with royalty or government. Sensitive words need approval from the appropriate body, and offensive words or those likely to mislead are not allowed.
How Do I Trademark My Company Name?
To register a trademark, complete a trade mark application with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Include detailed information about your company and the desired trademark. After evaluation, registration may take several months.
Can I Use a Trading Name Different From My Company Name?
A company may have multiple trading names, different from its registered name. These are used for marketing or to distinguish business divisions but must be legally compliant.
How Do I Ensure That My Company Name Does Not Infringe on Existing Trademarks or Intellectual Property Rights?
Conduct a thorough search through trademark databases and consult with legal professionals to ensure that the chosen name does not conflict with existing trademarks or intellectual property. Regular monitoring may also be advisable.