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Company naming – what are ‘sensitive’ words and expressions?

When choosing a suggested name for your limited company, you must steer clear of a number of words deemed to be ‘sensitive’ by Companies House, as they may mislead others, cause confusion or offence.

Company Naming Rules Expressions Sensitive

When might your choice of name break the rules?

  • You would fall foul of company naming rules if your proposed name implies some kind of connection with the Government or a public body or administration.
  • You cannot imply that your company has a certain status, membership or has been given an endorsement by an organisation or body without permission.
  • And finally, any name you choose must not cause a criminal offence.

How do you find out what the sensitive words and expressions are?

Companies House has published three Annexes which contain:

1. Annex A – Words you need to gain approval from a specific body before using.

The relevant body need not grant consent for such words to be used, as long as they don’t explicitly object to an application. You will need to enclose proof of eligibility before using many expressions (for example if you are a ‘Chartered Accountant’) when you apply to set up a company.

Examples of words and expressions include: Accredited, Association, Authority, Chartered, Commission, Council, Fund, Institute, Mutual, Police, Royal titles, Regulator, etc.

2. Annex B – Words which require approval from a public body, as they may imply some kind of connection with the Government, or related organisation.

As with the words in Annex A, you would need to get a letter of non-objection from the relevant body before using a term contained within it.

Examples of such words include: Assembly, Chamber of Commerce, Further Education, GB, HMRC, Home Office, UK,  etc.

3. Annex C – This contains words you must seek specific approval for, otherwise you may be committing a criminal offence (for a variety of reasons).

Examples include: Most health professions such as ‘Chiropodist’, Building Society, Chemist, Dentist, GP, Olympic, Solicitor, Surgeon, etc.

Further Considerations

If you’re choosing a name for your company (or business – if unincorporated), you should consider some other factors to ensure you make the right choice:

1. Make sure you don’t use an existing brand name within your own proposed name, or unintentionally breach trademark law. Why not take a minute to carry out a trade mark search on the Intellectual Property Office site here.

2. Consider possible domain names for your brand / business at the same time as choosing your business name.

3. If you’re choosing a limited company name, it must be unique, and not ‘the same as’ other names registered at Companies House. For example, Trader Limited is the ‘same as’ Trader.co.uk. Find out more via the links below.

More Naming Information

You can access the complete list of sensitive words and expressions via Annexes A-C at Companies House here.

For more about naming in general, read the Companies House guidance on incorporation and names here.

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