A company cannot have the same name as another registered company. Any company formation application or change of company name form containing a company name that is the ‘same as’ or ‘too similar’ to an existing name will be rejected by Companies House (the UK Registrar).
These company name rules exist to protect the general public from being misled or confused.
What are the ‘same name’ and ‘too similar’ rules
The Companies Act 2006 provides Companies House with the power to judge whether a proposed company name is the ‘same as’ or ‘too similar’ to an existing company name. Where it is, the Registrar can reject the name application.
The ‘same name’ rules do not mean that a company name has to be identical to an existing one to be rejected. This is because certain words, expressions, signs, and symbols intended to differentiate a proposed company name from an existing one may be disregarded if they are considered insufficient to distinguish the names from another one.
For example, ‘The Baking Company Ltd’ would be deemed the same as ‘Baking Company Ltd’ because the word ‘The’ is disregarded.
Companies House will also reject applications where a company name is deemed ‘too similar’ to an existing name on the register. For example, ‘Easy Cooking For You Ltd’ may be deemed too similar to ‘Easy Cooking 4U Ltd’.
What if a company already has the same name as another company?
Companies House occasionally makes mistakes and allows a company with the same name or a similar name to be registered. In such instances, Companies House has the power to direct whichever company breached the rules to change its name.
Are there any circumstances when I can use the same name as another company?
The ‘same as’ rule may be waived if:
- the proposed company is going to be part of the same group as the existing company with the ‘same as’ name
- the existing company provides its consent to the registration of the ‘same as’ name
- the application to register the name includes a written statement from the existing company confirming its consent to the registration of the proposed ‘same as’ name and that the company will be part of the same group
How do I check if the company name I want is already taken?
To check whether the name you want to use is already taken, you should use our online company name-checker. This will enable you to establish if the company name you want is available for use or if it is already taken and listed on the Companies House register.
If your company name is already taken, consider a business (or trading) name
A business name, sometimes referred to as a trading name, is an alternative name that a company may use when it doesn’t want to operate under its official registered name. This type of name does not have to be listed on the public register at Companies House because business/trading names are not subject to the ‘same as’ rules.
You can use as many business/trading names as you like, but you should avoid using one that is the same as the registered name of a company in the same industry. This could be viewed as ‘passing off’, which would mean you were taking advantage of a company’s goodwill and trust. Passing off could lead to civil court proceedings being filed against your company for misrepresentation.
Similarly, you should take care not to infringe any registered trademarks when choosing a company name or business/trading name, so it is advisable to search the trademarks register beforehand.