Can I Call my Company Whatever I like?

We received the following question: “Can I call my company whatever I like?”
To give you the answer right away; no you can’t!

So be careful when you pick the name for your business.

For example words or expressions that are deemed to be offensive are in most countries not allowed. (Note that rules may vary per country, so always check it before you cross that brilliant business name of the list.)

There is no list with these words, so you’ll have to use your own judgment what they are, but if they include swearing or phrases generally considered insulting then the chances are they are not permissible.

There are also phrases that are deemed to be ‘sensitive’ and you will have to gain permission to use them before you do. There are five main groups of these words:

  • Words that suggest national importance, like national, international or British
  • Describe a particular function like a charity or trust.
  • Special status or authority such as association, Royal, Chamber of Commerce.
  • Names that refer to specialist activities like surveyor or chemist.
  • Names that would give the impression that the business is connected to the government of your country.
  • If your country has a royal family then probably you can’t give the impression that your business is connected with the royal family.

Sole Traders

A sole trader can trade under their own name or under a business partner name. Sole traders are not allowed to use Ltd or plc in their name. Note: using your own name in your business name is not mandatory for a sole trader.

Limited Companies

If you have chosen to start a Limited Company then the business name must end with limited or Ltd and you can’t use this word in your name anywhere else (example: Cheap Limited Supplies Ltd for a wholesaler is not allowed.

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