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UK limited companies – similar company name rules

You are not allowed to register a limited company name at Companies House if the name is deemed to be the "same as" another limited company on the register at Companies House.

The company name rules are quite cumbersome and unwieldy and in many cases appear to be at the discrection of Companies House. Below is an extract of guidance on "same as" from Companies House to give you an idea but you are welcome to discuss the matter with a member of our staff if you require clarification.

What does "same as" mean?

A name is the "same as" another name appearing on the index of company names if it is either identical to an existing name or would be deemed to be essentially the same because the name differs only by minor elements which the law requires us to disregard when comparing the two names. For example, we would disregard plurals or certain types of punctuation marks when comparing names.

Examples of what we will disregard or ignore when comparing names are:

  • any of the designated name endings (including permitted abbreviations with or without full stops or their welsh equivalents) set out in question 1 above, for example, "limited", "unlimited", "public limited company" or "community interest company";
  • words and expressions such as "biz", "co", "co uk", "co.uk", "com", "company", "UK", "United Kingdom", "Wales", "Cymru", "net", "GB", "Great Britain", "org.uk", "services", "international"(but see question 3 of this chapter for circumstances when these will not be ignored);
  • a blank space between or after a word, expression, character, sign or symbol;
  • punctuation including a full stop, comma, colon, semi colon, hyphen, apostrophe, bracket, exclamation mark, question mark;
  • permitted characters "*", "=", "#", "%" and "+" if they are used as one of the first three characters in a name;
  • "s" at the end of a name;
  • "the" and "www" at the beginning of a name;
  • any but the first 60 characters in a name.

In addition, we will treat certain words and expressions as if they were the same, eg "and" and "&", "plus" and "+", "1" and "one", "6"and "six", "€" and "euro", "$" and "dollar","%" and "percent", "@" and "at",

The 'same as' rules are included in 'The Company and Business Names (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2009 (SI2009/1085)' which we strongly advise you to read before you apply to incorporate your chosen name.

Please note, the "same as" rules do not prevent someone else trading under a name that is the same as a company’s registered name in all respects excepting only the designator (eg "ltd").

Are there any exceptions to the 'same as' rules?

Yes. Where 2 companies are in the same group, they may have names that differ only by certain specified words and expressions (such as "biz", "co", "co uk", "co.uk", "com", "company", "UK", "United Kingdom", "Wales", "Cymru", "net", "GB", "Great Britain", "org.uk", "services", "international"). This is permitted only if the member of the group whose name is already on the Registrar’s Index of company names gives its consent to the other company adopting the name that differs from its own in this way. The application for the proposed name must include :

  • a copy of a statement in which the existing company consents to the other company adopting the proposed name and confirms it will be part of the same group

Can you give some examples of 'same as' names?

If "Hands Limited" is already registered we would reject the following applications:

  • Hand-S Limited or Ltd;
  • H and S Public Limited Company (or PLC);
  • H & S Services Limited (or Ltd);
  • @H & S Limited (or Ltd);
  • Hands: Limited (or Ltd);
  • # H & S Limited (or Ltd);

Similarly, if 'Catering Limited' is already a registered company we would reject the following applications unless the application is for a company in the same group as "Catering Limited" and Catering Limited has given its consent:

  • Catering UK Limited (or Ltd);
  • Catering.co.uk Limited (or Ltd);
  • Catering International Limited (or Ltd)
  • Catering Company (Services) Limited (or Ltd);

You can use our company name checker to check if your name is available.

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