Entrepreneurship

Registering a company name in the UK

Cameron Fleming | 7 February 2022 | 2 years ago

Registering a company name UK

If you’re thinking of incorporating as a limited company, you might be wondering how you go about registering a company name UK. Whilst actually registering the company name with Companies House is a relatively straightforward process, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider before deciding on a name for your company.

In this article, we’ll talk you through the process of registering a company name in the UK, from coming up with a unique name for your company through to actually completing the registration. We’ll also answer some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic, so that you’re clear on your obligations as a business owner and to ensure that the registration process goes as smoothly as possible for you and your new company.

So, if you are looking to register a company in the UK, read on!

What is the requirement for company registration?

If you want to register as a limited company in the UK, there are a few things you’ll need to have in place first.

1.     A registered office address

Before you can register your new company, you’ll need to have a registered office address for communications to be sent to. Remember, this will be displayed on the Companies House website, so think carefully whether you want to use your home address for this.

2.     Details of your planned business activity

You’ll also need to have decided what industry your new business will operate in. You’ll do this by choosing a SIC code (Standard Industrial Classification Code) for your business, to describe the type of activity that your business conducts.

3.     Details of directors and shareholders

Before you can register a limited company in the UK, you’ll need to decide on who will be a director of the company and who will be a shareholder. For each of these people, you’ll need their full names, date of birth, their occupation, residential address and nationality.

How to choose a company name

Choosing a name for your new company is an exciting process, as it marks the beginning of your business. But it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.

Your company name is often the first sight that a customer will have of your business, so you need to make the right impression. Your company name should show your potential customers your personality, your values and what your business does.

It’s also important to note that choosing the wrong company name could lead to legal issues later down the line, for example if it’s too similar to another company’s trademark. So, it’s important that you carefully consider your company name and keep Intellectual Property Law in mind too.

Here are a few tips to help you to choose a company name for your new business.

  • Think of names that describe what your company does, so that your customers instantly understand your business. For example, Burger King, Pizza Hut and WeBuyAnyCar.
  • Make sure that your company name allows for the future growth of your business – don’t limit yourself too much.
  • Choose a name that won’t date or go out of fashion. Otherwise, you may need to change your company name later down the line.
  • Check for existing businesses with the same name. You can do this for free on the Companies House website.
  • Make sure the domain name is available. You don’t want to register a name and then discover that you can’t have a website with that name!
  • Create a shortlist of names. Then, show the names to friends and family, asking them what they think the company does and what impression they get of the company from its name. This will help you to narrow down your options.

Companies House rules on choosing a company name

There are also a set of rules that have been put in place by Companies House to govern which names are allowed by law. Under these rules, you cannot register a company name that:

  • Contains any of the listed sensitive words, unless you have permission to do so.
  • Suggests a connection to the local authority or government.
  • Includes words that could be offensive.
  • Contains words that go against UK law.
How do I register a company name in the UK

How do I register a company name in the UK?

Once you’ve chosen a company name, you’ll need to register it with Companies House. The cost to register a company in the UK is currently £12.

The process is quick and straightforward, and once it’s complete, you’ll be given a certificate of incorporation. This is proof that your company legally exists, and will also provide you with your company number and date of formation.

If you’re happy to have the word ‘limited’ in your company name, you can register your company online. If you choose this option, your company registration will usually be complete within 24 hours.

Alternatively, if you do not want the word ‘limited’ in your company name, you’ll need to register by post. This takes around 8 – 10 days and comes with an increased cost of £40. You’ll need to complete form IN01 to register your company by post.

What documents are required for the registration of a company?

When you register your company, you’ll need a memorandum of association and an articles of association document. These documents set out how the company will be run and are signed by all shareholders and directors of the company.

If you register your company online, you won’t need to write your own documents. Your memorandum of association will be completed automatically when you complete the registration, and you can choose to use the model articles of association. However, you can choose to write your own articles of association if you choose.

If you register your company by post, you can use the memorandum of association template. You can also find templates for the articles of association if you choose to use the model articles, or you can choose to write your own.

You’ll also need to create a Government Gateway account. To do this, you’ll require two forms of ID, such as a passport and UK driving licence.

How much does it cost to register a business name UK?

To register as a limited company, you’ll need to register with Companies House. If you choose to complete this registration online, the cost is currently £12 and will need to be paid by debit or credit card. The process usually takes around 24 hours, so your company could be up and running by the next day.

Alternatively, you can choose to register your company by post. However, this comes with an increased cost of £40 which will need to be paid by cheque, and typically takes between eight and ten days.

Can I register a company name without trading

Can I register a company name without trading?

If you’re currently trading as a sole trader but are not yet ready to convert your business into a limited company, you might be wondering whether you can register your company name without beginning trading through the company. One reason why you might want to do this is to protect your business name from competitors.

It is possible to register a company name without trading. To do this, you would need to set up a dormant company, which exists but is not actively trading. This protects your company name for the future.

If you decide to begin trading through your dormant company, you will need to inform HMRC within three months of beginning trading. You’ll then need to send your company’s accounts to Companies House within nine months of the company’s financial year end date and also pay any corporation tax due. You’ll also need to submit a tax return within 12 months of your company’s financial year end date.

What is the difference between a trading name and a business name?

Some companies want to trade under a different name to their registered company name. In fact, some companies trade under multiple different names, despite all being part of the same limited company.

Using separate trading names for your company can be useful if your business offers multiple different services. Trading names allow you to have a self-explanatory name that explains your services to your target client for each service that you offer, without having to register each as a separate company.

However, it’s important to note that trading names do not get the same legal protection as company names, so there’s a chance that another company may register your trading name with Companies House in the future, causing disruption to your business.

So, whilst it’s perfectly possible to trade under a different name to your registered company name, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of doing so before making that decision.

Do I need to register my business name if I’m a sole trader?

If you’re a sole trader, you might be wondering whether you need to register the name of your business with Companies House.

There is no legal obligation for sole traders in the UK to register with Companies House. This is because Companies House is only for incorporated companies. However, if you want to protect your business name in case you decide to incorporate as a company in the future, you may choose to register as a dormant company with Companies House. This means that if you decide to change to a company in the future, you can simply make your company active.

Whilst they don’t need to register a company with Companies House, sole traders do need to register for self-assessment with HMRC. This will mean that you will need to complete an annual self-assessment tax return to declare your self employed income each year. However, you do not need a business name to do this – you can simply register and trade under your own name if you choose to do so.

Related questions

Is it better to be sole trader or LTD?

There is no straightforward answer when it comes to whether a sole trader or limited company is better. This is because it depends on your individual business and its income and expenditure. Whilst some businesses will be financially better off remaining as a sole trader, others may find that they are more tax efficient if they incorporate as a limited company. If you’re unsure of whether your business should be a sole trader or a limited company, it’s best to consult with a qualified accountant who can talk you through each option and help you to make the right decision for your business.

Does it cost to become a sole trader?

There is no cost for registered as a sole trader in the UK. This means that it is completely free for individuals to register as self employed with HMRC. To do this, you will need to create a Government Gateway account, and then register for self-assessment. You will then be asked to complete an annual self-assessment tax return to declare the income and expenditure of your business, before your income tax and National Insurance Contributions are calculated.

In summary

The process of incorporating as a company is relatively straightforward. It can be done either online or by post, and you could be up and running as a limited company in as little as 24 hours.

Choosing a company name can feel like a challenge. There are so many different potential names out there and the choice isn’t always an easy one. The best thing to do is to ask existing or potential customers for their opinions on your potential company names, so that you gain an understanding of their perspectives.

In this article, we’ve explained the process of registering a company name UK, from choosing the right name for your business through to completing the registration process. We hope this has given you an overview of the process that you’ll need to follow, as well as some inspiration for choosing the right company name for your business.

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