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Choosing a company name

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Choosing a name for your business is a very important task. And more important if you decide to set up as a limited company, as there are rules that may affect your choice.

Before choosing a name, you should use our company name availability checker to ensure your chosen name is not the 'same as' an existing name on the register. You should also check the UK Intellectual Property Office trade marks register to ensure the proposed name does not infringe an existing trade mark.

Sensitive words and expressions

Certain words and expressions need approval by the Secretary of State to be in the name of a company, LLP or in a business name. These controls exist to ensure a name does not mislead or harm the public.

It may not be appropriate to use a certain word if it: 

  • suggests business pre-eminence, a particular status, or a specific function - like 'British', 'Institute' or 'Tribunal'
  • implies a connection with the UK government, a devolved administration or a local or specified public authority
  • includes a word that represents a regulated activity
  • includes a word whose use could be an offence

We have a list of sensitive words and expressions with information about who you'll need to contact for approval.

For example, to use the words 'Prince' or 'Princess', 'King' or 'Queen' or 'Royal', you'll need a letter or email of non-objection from the relevant body. To speed up your application, you should include: 

  • the reasons you wish to use this word
  • whether the organisation already exists, its current activities and future plans
  • details of any royal or government associations
  • details of leading members and membership numbers
  • if the name represents a pub, provide evidence of location and length of time in existence 
  • evidence if the word is a surname
  • any other relevant information

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