Companies House rejects 800 company names: Guide to naming your business

casually dressed business

When it comes to starting a business, one of the most challenging but interesting tasks you must carry out is finding the right name. However, many people do not realise that there are restrictions on what you can name your business.

In the last two years, Companies House rejected more than 800 company name registrations on the grounds that they are ‘potentially offensive’ including names such as Building That Fought Hitler Limited, Cambridge Cannabis Club Limited, Fancy a Bomb Ltd, and Fit as Fork Ltd. In this article, I’ll look at the restrictions on what you can name your company to ensure your new venture gets off to a flying start.

Company names must be unique

Every company registered in the UK must have a unique name. You should conduct thorough research online into any similar names that are registered with Companies House, using the name availability checker. It is not enough to simply change punctuation; it is important that your name is unique so as not to cause confusion to the public.

Should I use ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd.’?

All private companies limited by shares must have ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd.’ in their company name. Which you choose is up to you and it makes no legal or practical difference which one you use.

Potentially offensive words and phrases

In response to the news that more than 800 potentially offensive names had been rejected, a Companies House spokesperson said it was important that the register was not being abused by recording offensive names. Company names must not include offensive words or be phrased in such a way that may cause offense. However, you may be able to have the name approved if you can show justification for using the name, otherwise you may have to come up with a different name unlikely to cause offense.

Sensitive words and expressions

In addition to offensive words, there are 134 sensitive words and expressions that you need approval from the secretary of state in the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to use in a company. Examples of such words and expressions include British, commission, licensing, inspectorate, parliamentary, standards and Windsor.

Guidance is also given on words and expressions that could imply a connection with a government department, a devolved administration or a local or specified public authority.

Criminal offences

It is a criminal offence to use certain words and expressions in your company name where you do not meet the criteria for doing so. For example, the words solicitor, surgeon, architect, building society, and even apothecary all have very specific requirements to prevent fraud and abuse.

To discuss this or any other related matter, please contact Emma by phone, email or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Emma Reynolds

Solicitor, Commercial Property

Emma-Rose qualified as a solicitor in September 2023, although she has been with Hart Brown since graduating with her first-class honours Bachelor of Law Degree...

Emma R

Solicitor, Commercial Property

Emma Reynolds

Emma-Rose qualified as a solicitor in September 2023, although she has been with Hart Brown since graduating with her first-class honours Bachelor of Law Degree in 2019. Emma-Rose completed her Master of Law in Professional Legal Practice and obtained a distinction whilst working full-time as a paralegal at Hart Brown.

Emma-Rose has trained in the Commercial and Corporate, Leasehold Enfranchisement, Residential Property and Commercial Property departments and is now working full-time as a solicitor in her chosen field, Commercial Property.

Emma–Rose advises clients in relation to the acquisition and disposal of commercial property, granting and taking new leases, lease renewals, assignments of existing leases, grants of easements and deeds of covenant.

Emma-Rose prides herself in providing a straightforward, efficient and pragmatic approach to her matters so that she can deliver the best possible level of service to her clients.

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