sensitive company names

Some words are not allowed in company names and some words may only be used subject to special criteria or permission. Companies House regulates the use of all sensitive words and your company will not be registered if the criteria are not met. For example, you can't use the word "charity" without the permission of the Charity Commission.

The following is a list of the most common types of sensitive words. You may want to check through for any name you were considering. This information is taken directly from Companies House. Duport also maintains a constantly updated internal database of 'sensitive words' and the changing criteria that must be met to allow use of these words. If you need help on this matter, call our team on (0117) 330 8910. Please note that we are unable to check company names against all trademark registrations.

general naming principals

"same as"

Your company cannot be given the same name as an existing company on the companies house register, unless that company has been dissolved. Here are a list of ways NOT to differentiate a company name

  • spacing (i.e. duportassociates IS the same as duport associates)
  • punctuation or non alpha characters (@duport. associates! IS the same as duport associates)
  • internet expressions (duportassociates.co.uk IS the same as duport associates) unless registered as part of the same group
  • alternative symbols to represent words are not acceptable (i.e. duport & associates IS the same as duport and associates)
  • the word "company" (i.e. duport associates company IS the same as duport associates)
  • national identifiers (i.e. duport associates uk IS the same as duport associates) unless registered as part of the same group

"too like"

Companies House have adopted a policy of rejecting names that are "too like" existing names on the register. "Too like" relates to how a company name looks and sounds and whether the similarity between a proposed and existing name is likely to cause confusion.

Example:
Duports Associates Ltd is "too like" Duport Associates Ltd (our name). For the same reason Dup0rt Associates, Duportt Associates and Dewport Associates would come under close scruitiny in relation to this rule.

"offensive"

Any company name that may be considered offensive or likely to cause offense will almost certainly be rejected.

the following words imply a geographical pre-eminence

british

approval of this word in your company name will depend on how it is used. Normally the Secretary of State would expect the company to be British owned. You would need to show that the company is pre-eminent in its field by providing supporting evidence from an independent source such as a Government department or a trade association.

If the word 'British' is qualified by words that do not describe an activity or product, for example by using a 'made-up' word, then evidence of pre-eminence is not necessarily essential. But you would be expected to show that your company is substantial in relation to its activity or product and that it is eminent in its own field.

england, english, scotland, scottish, wales, welsh, ireland or irish

if you wish to use these words as a prefix to your company name, the rules are similar to those for 'British'. You will usually be given approval to use any of these words as a suffix if you show that the company has its main place of business in the country concerned. If you want to use one of these words because it is a surname, you will usually be given approval if the company name includes forenames or initials.

european

names which include this word will not be approved if they unjustifiably imply a connection with official bodies of the European Union. If there is a genuine connection with an official body, the name may be allowed if the appropriate body supports the application.

great britain or united kingdom

if you wish to use these expressions as a prefix, or to use 'of Great Britain' or 'of the United Kingdom' as a suffix, then the criteria are the same as for 'British'. If the words are used as a suffix to the name, they are normally allowed without difficulty. Using the initials 'GB' or 'UK' in your company name does not require approval.

international

if you wish to use this word as a prefix, you need to show that the major part of the company's activities is in trading overseas. If you wish to use it as a suffix, then approval will usually be given if you can show that the company operates in two or more overseas countries.

national

the criteria for use of this word are the same as for 'British'.

the following words imply business pre-eminence or representative or authoritative status:

association, federation or society

if you wish to use one of these words, your company would normally be limited by guarantee. Each member should have one vote and the constitution should contain a non-profit distribution clause. This provides that any profits should be used to further the objects of the company and not be paid to the members as dividends.

authority, board or council

if you want to use any of these words, you should ask us for advice. If the company is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

institute or institution

approval for use of these words is normally given only to those organisations which are carrying out research at the highest level or to professional bodies of the highest standing. You will need to show us that there is a need for the proposed institute and that it has appropriate regulations or examination standards. You will need evidence of support from other representative and independent bodies.

the following words imply specific objects or functions:

assurance, assurer, insurance, insurer, re-assurance, re-assurer, re-insurance or re-insurer

if the name is needed for an underwriting company, we will normally seek further advice. However, if you want to use the name for a company that will only provide insurance services, then you should include the appropriate qualification, for example 'agents', 'consultants' or 'services', in the name.

benevolent, foundation or fund

names that include any of these words will be refused if they unjustifiably give the impression that the company has charitable status. If the company is limited by guarantee and has a non-profit distribution clause in the memorandum of association, then the name will normally be approved.

charter or chartered

names that include these words will be refused if they unjustifiably give the impression that the company has a Royal Charter. If the words are used to qualify a profession, we will seek the advice of the appropriate governing body before considering whether to give approval.

charity

to use this word the company must provide a letter of non-objection from the Charity Commission. If the company is not intended to be a charity, a copy of the proposed memorandum and articles of association along with details of the company activities and an explanation of why the word is required must be forwarded to the Charity Commission.

chemist or chemistry

if you want to use these words, you should ask for advice from Companies House in Cardiff. If the company is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

co-operative

if you wish to use this word, your company's memorandum and articles of association should follow the rules generally associated with co-operatives in the UK. If you need further advice you should contact Companies House in Cardiff. If the company is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

friendly society or industrial and provident society

we will refer names which include these expressions to the Registrar of Friendly Societies for advice. If you want to use them in your company name, you should first ask Companies House in Cardiff. If the company is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

group

if use of this word implies several companies under one corporate ownership, then you will need to provide evidence of a parent and/or subsidiary association with two or more other British or overseas companies. If the name clearly shows that the company is to promote the interests of a group of individuals, then the name will normally be approved.

holding(s)

a company wishing to use this word must be a holding company as defined under section 736 of the Companies Act 1985.

patent or patentee

a name including either word will only be approved if it does not contravene the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.

post office

we are likely to seek advice on applications that include these words.

register or registered

we treat every application for use of these words on its merits. Generally, we will seek advice from the appropriate governing body if names that include these words are linked with a professional qualification. The name will not be registered if it unjustifiably implies a connection with HM Government or a local authority. If such a connection actually exists, the name may be allowed if the appropriate body supports the application.

sheffield

if you wish to use a name that includes the word 'Sheffield', we will need to establish details of the company's location and its business activities. We will also consult the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.

stock exchange

names including this expression will normally be refused unless there are special circumstances.

trade union

names including this expression will normally be refused unless they conform to legislation relating to trade unions.

trust

the word 'trust' can be used in many different senses. Each application is dealt with on its merits but the main uses of this word are as follows:

charitable trust

these companies need to have charitable objects and a non-profit distribution clause in the memorandum of association. You will be asked for confirmation that you have made, or will make, an application for registration as a charity with the Charity Commission. Scottish companies wishing to use the expression 'charitable trust' will need to apply to the Inland Revenue in Edinburgh as the Charity Commission has no jurisdiction in Scotland.

educational trust or artistic trust

such companies should have a non-profit distribution clause in the memorandum of association and the name should reflect the nature of the trust. The promoters should be of high standing in the field.

enterprise trust

these companies must have a non-profit distribution clause in the memorandum of association and they must be able to provide evidence of support from, for example, local authorities, businesses or banks.

family trust

such companies must be non-profit distributing and the objects must reflect the nature of the trust. Names of family trusts will usually be approved if the name as a whole identifies the company as such.

financial trust or investment trust

if you wish to use these expressions, you will need to provide a written assurance that substantial paid-up share capital or other funds will be achieved within a reasonable period after incorporation.

pensions or staff trust

the names of such companies must include the name of the parent company, and the objects of the company must include the operation of pension funds.

unit trust

if you wish to use this as part of your company name, you should seek the advice of Companies House in Cardiff. If the company is to be registered in Scotland, contact Companies House in Edinburgh.

need more help?

If you find you are unable to answer all of your questions in this section, we are always delighted to hear from you.

Call us on 0117 950 2667 with any enquiries

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