As a UK contracting professional and business owner, you may ask can I change company name (Companies House), and if so, how can I change my company name? Furthermore, how long does it take to change limited company name? The good news is you can via an NM01 form which you file with Companies House. Therefore, do not worry; private limited companies can go ahead with changing company name anytime they choose. In this article, we will look at how to change company name (UK) when you run your own business and the process involved.
Companies House are a body that looks after company formation procedures. They also look after the UK public register. This register contains the basic details about all UK limited companies. When some official details of a UK company change, the record will need updating. Therefore, as the register includes the company name, a business owner should inform Companies House when they are changing a company name.
Every UK company has a name and a company number. The number will never change; however, the company’s owner can decide to change the name at any time. Therefore, when we investigate how to change company name a form is to file with Companies House when you make the amendment. You can file this either online or through the normal or through the postal system. Notably, many limited company contractors and small business owners will let their accountants change the business name on their behalf.
What to consider when you change the business name
As a UK contractor or small business owner, you will need to choose a name for your company as well as choose a registered office when you first set your company up. However, at some future point during your contracting career, you may look into how you can change this, for one reason or another.
When you might look into changing company name
At some future point, when you run your own UK company, you may decide that the time has come when you would like to change your business name. When you change your business name it could be for one reason or another. You may feel the name is no longer appropriate for your current line of work. Alternatively, you may also think that the current business name is no longer suitable for the type of professional services that you are now offering. Therefore, we will need to investigate how to change my company name.
Besides investigating how to change a company name (UK) with Companies House, there are also other tasks to perform when you are changing limited company name. Please see later in the article for our checklist of what else to do when you change your business name.
We have many other guides that help you navigate Companies House and how to report and make certain changes. Notably, we have covered in our articles:
- What is the SIC code.
- The UK Public Register.
- Your official address as director (and how you can change this to protect your home address).
- If your company needs a company secretary.
Companies House -check company name
Before you make the change the name of your company, you can do a Companies House company name check to see if your proposed new choice of name is available. You can perform the Companies House name check by typing the name in the search box and click the search icon to check Companies House for names. If the name is already in use by another company, you cannot use it. Therefore, you can further check Companies House for names that are available based on what you are thinking of naming your company.
Please also note, when you do the limited company name check if you pick a name which is very similar to that of another company, Companies House may reject this. If the name is unavailable and you apply for this, Companies House will reject your request. In addition, as part of the UK company name change, your business will need the required permission to include sensitive words and expressions. These words include ‘international’, ‘bank,’ and `certified.’
How to change company name on Companies House -the process
Let us look at how to make the amendment at Companies House. Notably, the process of changing the limited company’s name is straightforward enough. When we look at the official process, the most common way is to pass a special written resolution. This is a formal decision that at least 75% of the company’s members votes agree to. The special resolution can be passed in writing or in a general meeting to approve the change.
As part of considering how to change company name, a company must complete Companies House form NM01 -notice of change of name by resolution. The Companies House change of name form is used by UK limited companies to give notice to Companies House of a written resolution on change of name.
You can complete the Companies House form NM01 and change company name online. Alternatively, you can send a completed form through the post.
We have a separate guide covering choosing a name for your company. Selecting a business name will be relevant when forming your company for the first time.
How much does it cost, and how long does it take to change company name?
When you make the name change, you can submit a paper NM01 form to Companies House. The fee is £10 for the postal service and is straightforward to complete. What’s more, you can pay by cheque or Postal Order. In addition, you can send the form and payment to the address on the form.
Alternatively, you can file the form with Companies House online via their WebFiling service. The fee is £8, or £30 for a same-day service. If you use the £8 service, the change will happen within a couple of days once Companies House approves this. Most UK contractors and small businesses will use the online service when making the change.
Complete the forms
The Companies Act 2006 (sections 77-79) allow a company to change its name by:
- Passing a special resolution of the members, or
- By other means, provided for in the articles of association.
A company can pass the special resolution at a board meeting. If you are a limited company contractor with your own company, you can hold a director’s general meeting, and the shareholders can sign a written special resolution. Your Articles of Association may also define another method to do this.
Once you pass the resolution, you can submit NM01 form with the correct fee to Companies House. They will process the name change within two or three working days.
If you are to change the business name via the second method above, as defined in your company’s Articles of Association (this is not likely if you are the owner of a contractor limited company), you can use form NM04.
Once you have sent the change of name form through the post or filed online and Companies House have processed the change, they will issue a Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name.
Changing company name checklist (UK) -other things to do
When you update the business name with Companies House via NM01 form, there are also some other tasks to perform. Once the change company name process has taken place, you also will need to:
- Inform your accountant.
- Update the company statutory registers -if your accountant looks after these, they will do this for you.
- Advise your company’s bankers so that they can update your bank account or accounts.
- Update your company’s insurance company so they can update your policy.
- Let any clients and contacts know.
- Update your business website and any social media. If you have a business email address that contains your company’s name, you will also need to look into updating this too.
Once the change in business name is made
When your business name has changed, Companies House will send you a new certificate of incorporation. This will include the date of change of name. Besides the change of name, nothing else has changed as the registered number remains the same. You or your accountant will need to inform the tax authorities (Corporation Tax, VAT and PAYE) and you will need to update the bank and any other professional contacts. Your business website, invoices and any official company stationery will need to include the new name in future.
We explain in this article the process of how to change company name. Once you receive approval of the name change, you can then inform all relevant contacts and third parties. First, you can inform your business bankers, insurance companies and professional organisations that your company is a member. You must also advise the VAT, PAYE/NIC, and Corporation Tax offices. In many cases, UK contractors rely on their contractor accountant to make the changes with the tax authorities. The next step is to tell any clients or contacts. Finally, you can update any online profiles, such as social media and your own business website, if you have one.
Link to Contractor Advice UK group on