Choose a name for a UK company

Introduction

When you set up your own incorporated business, besides undertaking tasks like setting up a company bank account, you will need to choose a name for your UK company.

I have a separate guide on how to change the name of your limited company.

What’s more, there are various rules to bear in mind when you choose a name for a UK company:

  • The name cannot be the same as or too similar to an existing company. You can search the Companies House database for this. It also cannot infringe on any Trademarks. 
  • It should not imply that your business is has a connection with the Government or local authority. 
  • The name cannot be rude or offensive. 
  • It must have the required permission to be able to include sensitive words. These include words such as ‘international’ or ‘bank’ or `certified.’ 
  • You cannot use certain punctuation symbols. 

Things for you to think about

If you are planning to start contracting via your own company, have a read of my first timer contracting guide. You will need to bear in mind that there are certain things you should look out for when you are picking a name for your business.

You should take some time to research potential names as you may trade under this for many years to come. You will also look to present a professional image to clients and recruitment agencies.

It is also worth bearing in mind that you may look to do some non-contracting business through your business in the future. Therefore, when you come to choose a name for your UK company, if you picked `ABC IT Services Limited’ this may not be suitable for you at that time.

You can change the company name in the future if you so choose. To do this, you will need to submit a form NM01 to Companies House. There is also a nominal fee to pay if you do this, but it would be wise to get it right the first time.

Avoid using similar names that are already in use

As mentioned, your choice of name should not be too similar to an existing name.

You must also avoid including trademarked words into your company name, such as ‘Microsoft IT Services Limited.’

In June 2016, a company called Casio Services Ltd (CSL) set up as a new company. In turn, Companies House let the name go through.

However, the famous Casio brand felt that the new entity had breached its intellectual property rights. They took legal action to force CSL to change its name, which they then did. Importantly, this shows that you must take care to research your choice of name. Acceptance of a name by the authorities does not necessarily mean that a business with a similar name could challenge it at a later stage.

The types of companies

All companies must end in ‘ltd,’ ‘limited,’ or ‘plc.’ IT contractor companies will almost always end in ‘limited’ or ‘ltd.’

You can refer to the Companies House booklet GP1 -Incorporation and Names for full details.

Internet domains

When you choose a company name, you should also try and secure the related internet domain names at the same time. When you do this, it will not only protect your future web presence, but if you have the same company and domain names can add to your credibility.

What’s more, I would advise you to try and secure the .com and .co.uk domains and add as many others as you wish.

IR35 rules and things to think about

It is also worth noting that with IR35 so closely attached to the contracting profession, having the words `contractor’ or `contracting’ or `freelancer’ may catch the eye of the taxman.

Given that IR35 has been challenging to apply in practice, HMRC could seek easy targets for their IR35 inquiries.

Let us assume that you set up a company with the name of `London IT Contracting Limited,’ drawing a modest salary for yourself and taking the rest of your income as dividends. In this scenario, it could potentially have an `IR35 status inquiry’ written all over it.

You may, of course, fall outside IR35, but you do not want to stand out from the crowd when you can easily avoid doing so.

Ways to set up your company

There are several ways of setting up your company:

  • You do this directly via Companies House 
  • Use a formations agent. They will normally provide more support than going direct. 
  • Ask your contractor accountant to do this for you 

Final thoughts

You may be thinking about setting up a company but are not quite ready to start contracting through it yet. If so, you can set it up and keep it dormant until you start contracting. By doing this, you will safeguard the name and have minimal admin duties to adhere to each year until you begin trading.

Link to Contractor Advice UK group on 

LinkedIn    https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4660081/

Published On: March 28th, 2021 / Categories: Starting Up Your Own Company / Tags: /

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