If you want to reserve a company name in the UK, you will have to set up a company. Whether you plan to trade through the company in the future or you want to protect the name to prevent other companies from registering it, incorporation is essential.
It is not possible to simply reserve a company name for future registration. However, once you have incorporated a company, you can maintain it in a dormant state (i.e. inactive; not trading) to minimise your statutory filing and reporting requirements.
How to incorporate a new company to reserve your name
You can incorporate a company online and reserve a company name so that no one else can register it. Company formation in the UK is a very straightforward and inexpensive process that requires submitting an application to Companies House. You can complete the application via Companies House Web Incorporation Service, but it is cheaper and easier to go through an online company formation agent.
At Quality Company Formations, our 4-step online company registration process is incredibly easy, with prices starting at £11.99 plus VAT. Once you have checked the availability of the name that you’d like to reserve, you will need to spend just a few minutes completing our simple online application form. Our team will review it thoroughly to check for any mistakes, and then it will be submitted electronically to Companies House for approval.
Within a few hours, your new company should be registered and your company name will be reserved. Your company will be ready to trade; however, if you wish to make it dormant, you just have to tell HMRC that it is inactive. It will remain dormant indefinitely unless you start receiving income or decide to trade through the company.
How to find out if a company name is available to reserve
Company names must be unique, so you cannot set up a company with the same name as another registered company. Before you complete your application, use our online company name checker to find out if your preferred name is available to register. In the unfortunate event, that the name is already in use, you will need to make small changes until you find an available alternative that you’re happy with.
To find out more about company name rules and regulations, please read Companies House guidance on choosing a company name.
Why would I reserve a company name?
There are a few reasons why you may want to reserve a company name:
- You are planning to start a new business at some point in the future and you want to secure your company name in advance
- You are currently operating as a sole trader or member of a partnership and you want to protect your existing business name
- You are planning to change your existing company name in the near future and you want to secure one or more company name options in advance
- As a pre-emptive measure to avoid potential disputes and the need for legal action with regard to a trade mark that you have registered
- To protect a domain name
- To set up a dormant or non-trading company
Whilst setting up a limited company will prevent other companies from being registered with the same name, it may not be enough to stop others from using your company name in different ways.
For example, other companies might decide to trade under your registered name, i.e. use your company name as their ‘trading name’. There is nothing stopping this, so long as they’re not trying to pass off as you, etc. unless you register a trade mark.
To get full protection, you should register your company name as a trade mark and domain name.
Making your company dormant
A limited company is ready to trade as soon as it is incorporated at Companies House. If you are setting up a company for the purpose of reserving a name, you will need to tell HMRC that your company is dormant for Corporation Tax purposes. You can do this by phone or email once you have received your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference, which will be posted to your registered office shortly after incorporation.
As long as your company remains dormant, there will be no need to prepare financial accounts or tax returns for HMRC. You don’t have to contact Companies House to tell them that your company is dormant; however, you will need to prepare dormant accounts and a Confirmation Statement for Companies House each year.
Quality Company Formations offers a Dormant Company Accounts Service for only £49.99 with accounts filed within 24 hours (1 working day).
If your dormant company becomes active at any point in the future, HMRC and Companies House will become aware of this change in trading status when you register for Corporation Tax and start submitting statutory annual accounts.