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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Our new powers to challenge and change company names

On 4 March 2024, the first measures under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act came into force. We started using our new and enhanced powers to clean up and improve the integrity of the register, which over time, will help to disrupt economic crime and provide greater transparency across the UK business environment.

As part of these new measures, we’re running stronger checks on company names which may give a false or misleading impression to the public. This will help us improve the accuracy and quality of the data we hold and help tackle the misuse of company names.

A woman in glasses looks at a computer screen

New powers to challenge company names  

These new measures build on existing controls on company names. Names cannot be the same as or too similar to an existing name, and certain terms are restricted, such as terms implying a connection to the UK government or using a sensitive word or expression.

Under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act, we can now also reject an application to register a name where we have reason to believe:

  • the name is intended to facilitate fraud
  • the name is comprised of or contains a computer code
  • the name is likely to give the false impression the company is connected to a foreign government or an international organisation whose members include two or more countries or territories (or their governments)

We can also direct companies to change their name in more circumstances, for example, where the name has been used, or is intended to be used, by the company to facilitate fraudulent activity.

If a company fails to change its name within 28 days, we can now determine a new name for the company, for example, changing the company name to its registered company number.

We also have the power to suppress a name from the register while a company responds to a direction to change its name.

Failure to comply is an offence

If a company does not respond to a direction to change their company name within 28 days, an offence is committed.

It’s also an offence to continue using a company name which we have directed to change.

Company Names Tribunal

The Company Names Tribunal continues to be responsible for considering objections to the use of a name which is:

  • the same as an existing name in which another person has goodwill
  • sufficiently similar to that name that it is likely to mislead

Stay up to date on the changes that affect you

The work will continue at pace as we implement more changes over the coming years, including identity verification, streamlining accounts filing options for small and micro entity companies, and transitioning towards filing accounts by software only. We’ll let you know when all these changes will come into effect as soon as we can.

We're confident that, over time, these new powers will make a difference to the accuracy and integrity of the information on the register and will help to make sure the UK remains a great place to do business.

Read our full guidance on company names.

To find out more about the changes to UK company law, visit our website and sign up for email newsletters.

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  1. Comment by Vincent posted on

    Just a very simple question, if an overseas company with uk establishment need to register email with the companies house? If yes, how can it be done? As we dont need to file a confirmation statement

    • Replies to Vincent>

      Comment by Luke C posted on

      Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment. An overseas company with a UK establishment is not required to provide a registered email address. This requirement only applies to UK companies and LLPs. We will communicate if there are any changes to this.

  2. Comment by BHAVYA posted on

    thanks for sharing

  3. Comment by EL posted on

    Will the upload a document facility, , allow files bigger than 4MB to be uploaded in the long term?

    • Replies to EL>

      Comment by Luke C posted on

      Hi Emma-Louise, thanks for your comment.

      We're aware that the 4MB limit poses a challenge to some customers when using the upload service. We're investigating options to increase this limit and working with our providers to come up with a solution. The timescale on this increase is currently unknown but we'll share updates via our blog and newsletter if and when this changes.

  4. Comment by james ramsden posted on

    so many companies change names/directors on a frequent basis its hard keeping up with some i have experiance of this will the new laws help prevent this?

    • Replies to james ramsden>

      Comment by Luke C posted on

      Hi James, thanks for your comment.

      Companies House has been given broader powers to become a more active gatekeeper over company registrations. The reforms have also given us a discretionary querying power to examine information on the register, and, where justified and proportionate, to interrogate and share that data with law enforcement partners and other authorities.

      The Act will introduce compulsory identity verification for all directors (and equivalent), people with significant control, and those filing information on behalf of a company. This will provide greater assurance regarding who is setting up, running, owning and controlling companies in the UK. This measure requires secondary legislation and we will share further information in the coming months.