Business Law & Compliance

How To Change A Company Name

Luisa Ddakis | 3 October 2022 | 2 years ago

how to change company name

A name is everything when it comes to starting a company. After all, your company name is the key defining feature of your brand. But there are some circumstances where a change of name is necessary. Whether you’re having a rebrand, or the company has had a change in ownership, sometimes you might decide that the best way forward is a new name for your company.

If you’re in this situation, you need to know exactly how to change a company name.  After all, it’s not as simple as just coming up with a new name and updating your website.

We’ve put together this simple guide to changing your company name, including the process you’ll need to follow to give your company a new name, as well as the things you’ll need to consider when choosing a new name for your business.

Can You Change The Name Of A Limited Company?

There’s no legal reason why you can’t change the name of a limited company. In fact, you are free to change your company name as often as you like, as long as the name that you choose isn’t already in use by another company and it isn’t offensive.

However, there are some practical considerations to bear in mind before you go ahead and change your company name. For example, if you’ve already built up a lot of brand recognition under your current name, then you might want to think twice about changing it.

Similarly, if you have any existing contracts in place with customers or suppliers, then you’ll need to check that these don’t include clauses that prevent you from changing your company name.

If you’ve considered all of your options and decided that changing your company name is the right way forward, you need to know exactly what to do. You’re in the right place. Read on to learn how to change your company name in the UK.

How Do You Change The Name Of A Limited Company?

There are two ways in which a limited company name can be changed in the UK:

  • By special resolution of the company shareholders
  • By other means provided in the company’s articles of association
Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.

Special Resolution Of The Company Shareholders

If you want to change your company name by special resolution of the shareholders, then you need to follow these steps:

  1. First, you need to hold a shareholder meeting and pass a resolution with a majority of 75% in favour of the name change.
  2. You then need to file this resolution with Companies House using form NM01, along with paying the appropriate fee.
  3. Once the resolution has been approved, Companies House will update their records and your company name will be changed.

Other Means Provided In The Company’s Articles Of Association

If your articles of association contain provisions that allow you to change your company name without passing a shareholder resolution, then you can follow these steps instead:

  1. Send a notice to all shareholders informing them of the proposed change of name and inviting them to object.
  2. If no objections are received within 21 days, you can file a notice with Companies House using form NM01, informing them of the new company name.
  3. Once the notice has been approved, Companies House will update their records and your company name will be changed.
Special Resolution To Change A Company Name

Do You Need A Special Resolution To Change A Company Name?

If you want to change your company name, there are two ways in which you can do this. The most common way to change a company name is by a special resolution. This means holding a vote of shareholders and receiving a majority of 75% in favour of the name change.

Alternatively, there may be a process set out in the company’s articles of association that would allow you to change the name without passing a shareholder resolution. However, this is less common.

If you’re unsure whether you need a special resolution to change your company name, we recommend seeking professional legal advice.

How To Choose A Name For Your Company

Your business name is one of the most important features of your company, so it’s important to get it right. After all, the name is one of the first things a potential customer will notice about your company, so you need to make the right impression.

It’s important that you don’t rush into choosing a company name – it requires careful consideration to make sure you get it right.

Here are some of the things you should consider when choosing a new company name.

1. Availability

The first thing to do is to ensure that your chosen name is available. You can do this by searching on the Companies House website. You cannot use a name that is already in use by any other company, so you’ll need to ensure that your new company name is unique.

2. Consider Your Audience

You need to think about how your target market will react to your new name. Consider who your target customers are and what impression you want to give them. This will help you to decide whether your proposed name is a suitable choice.

3. Keep It Simple

A simple name is easy to remember, as well as being easy to spell. This is important as you want potential customers to be able to find your website and contact you with ease.

4. Make It Memorable

You want your company name to be memorable, so that it sticks in people’s minds. A good way to achieve this is to choose a name that is catchy and unique.

5. Check The Meaning In Other Languages

If you’re targeting a international market, make sure the name doesn’t have a negative meaning in another language. This could have a negative impact on your business.

6. Avoid Trends

Your company name should be timeless, so avoid choosing a name that is based on current trends. This will ensure that your name doesn’t date too quickly and that you won’t have to change it again in the future.

7. Check Whether The Domain Is Available

When you’ve chosen your new company name, you’ll need to check whether the domain name is available. This is important as you want to make sure that potential customers can find your website easily.

8. Get Feedback From Others

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s a good idea to get feedback from others. Ask friends and family for their opinion on the names you’re considering to find out which they prefer. Ask them what they think of when they hear each name, as this will give you an idea of the connotations associated with your potential names.

This is a great time to approach your existing customers and ask their opinion on your potential new name. Seeking their opinion will help them to feel involved and valued, and it will also give you some valuable feedback that can help you to make your final decision.

Where To Update Your Company Name

Where To Update Your Company Name

Once you’ve chosen a new name for your company and updated it with Companies House, there’s a few other places you’ll need to update with your new company name. These include:

  • HMRC
  • On your website
  • At your registered office
  • On official publications and letters
  • With your bank
  • On any invoices, receipts and demands for payment
  • Any business licences
  • All business correspondence and documentation
You’ll also need to inform your suppliers and customers of your name change so that they can update their records.

How Long Does A Company Name Change Take?

The process of changing your company name is relatively straightforward and can be done online via the Companies House website.

You’ll need to file a notice of change of name with Companies House, which will cost £10. This can be done via the post or online.

Once you’ve filed the notice, it can take up to 10 days for the change to be processed.

Once the change has been approved, you’ll need to update your company name on the Companies House register. You’ll also need to inform HMRC of your new company name so that they can update their records.

You should also update your company name on your website, stationary and any other marketing materials. You’ll also need to inform your suppliers and customers of your new company name.

The whole process can take a few weeks to complete, but it’s relatively straightforward and shouldn’t cause too much disruption to your business.

What Happens When A Company Changes Its Name?

When a company changes its name, it will usually go through a rebranding process. This involves updating the company’s logo, stationary, website and any other marketing materials to reflect the new name. This is because the most common reason for a company to change its name is for rebranding purposes.

The company may also need to update its business licences and registration documents.

Any other changes that the company may go through at this time will be dependent on the reason for changing the company name. These could include a change of ownership, a merger or an expansion into new markets.

How Much Does It Cost To Change Company Name?

To change your company name, you’ll need to complete form NM01 (Unconditional Change of Name) with Companies House. When you file this form, you’ll need to pay an application fee of £10.

You’ll also need to update your company name on the Companies House register, which costs £12.

You may also need to update your company name with HMRC, although this is not always the case. In total, it should cost around £22 to change your company name with Companies House and HMRC.

It’s important to note that the main costs of changing your company name come with the documentation that needs to be updated after your name change. For example, you may need a new logo, you’ll need to update your website and you may need new marketing materials and signage. This can come with a price tag that is far higher than the £10 Companies House filing fee.

Can A Company Change Its Name To Avoid Debt?

A common misconception is that companies can simply change their name to avoid debt. If the company simply changes its name, the debt is still valid and the company will still be liable for payment.

To avoid debt, a company would need to declare itself bankrupt and close the company, and then open a new company. This process is known as phoenixing – the process of closing and reopening a company to avoid paying creditors, liquidators or HMRC, and we wouldn’t recommend it under any circumstance.

Phoenixing is a criminal offence and can result in a prison sentence. If you’re found guilty of phoenixing, you could face up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine.

If you’re thinking of changing your company name to avoid debt, you should seek professional advice first. This is because there are a number of legal and financial implications that need to be considered before making the decision to change your company name.

In Summary

There are many different reasons why you might choose to change your company name. It could be that the company has been sold to a new owner and the name needs to be changed to reflect this new ownership, or you might have decided to rebrand. Whatever the reason, it’s important that you understand how to change a company name before you get started with the process.

Luckily, the process of changing your company name is straightforward, as long as you have the agreement of the shareholders. You’ll simply file form NM01 with Companies House, along with paying a fee of £10, and then change your name with all relevant bodies.

 

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