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Registering a company

Can I use any name to register my Sole Trader business?

When you register your sole trader business at HMRC you register your own name (this could be your full name or initials).

You can also use a ‘trading as’ name. So you could be “John Doe trading as Bristol Dustbusters”.

You have to display John Doe on any signs, adverts or websites but it does not have to be prominent, so as long as you state this in small text at the footer you are compliant.

HMRC say that sole trader business names must not:

  • Include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership’, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • Be offensive
  • Be the same as an existing trademark—use HMRCs trademark search tool to confirm
  • Include a sensitive word or expression
  • Suggest a connection with government or local authority unless you have permission

Additionally, if you want to protect your business name at Companies House, 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.

We maintain 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.

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