UK companies must ensure their names are not the same as or too similar to another registered company’s name. This includes names that differ only by certain words or characters, or where the main part of the name is the same. There are also restrictions on sensitive words and expressions, which may imply a connection with the government or a devolved administration, a public authority, or a specified profession. Consent may be required to use these words in a company name.

Certain characters, signs, symbols, and punctuation are not accepted in company names. Names must not be offensive or suggest criminal activity. Companies House provides a list of “same as” words and expressions that are disregarded when deciding if names are too alike. This includes business identifiers like ‘company’, ‘co’, ‘services’, ‘international’ and their abbreviations or similar forms in any language.

Companies House can direct a company to change its name if it’s too similar to another, within 12 months of registration. The company has to comply within a month or Companies House will choose a new name. A company can also object to another company’s name if it’s too similar to its own.

It’s recommended to check the Companies House register and trade mark database before deciding on a company name to avoid any issues.

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