Before you get too attached to an idea for a business name you’ll want to check that it doesn’t contain any of the sensitive words and expressions listed in Annexes A to C of the Company and Business Names Regulations, which came into effect in 2009. The Companies House database doesn’t check business names for sensitive words, but Business Name Checker does.
Where can I find the list of sensitive words?
You can see the list of sensitive words for yourself within the Companies House incorporation and names document.
Changes to the rules for company and business names are coming into effect in 2015, including a reduction in the number of sensitive words on the list.
Sensitive words requiring consent from relevant authoritative body
None of the sensitive words can be used in your company name unless the authoritative body that appears alongside them in the list has no objection and declares this in writing. Some of the words to which this regulation applies are fairly obvious, such as ‘Doctor’ and ‘Dentist’. Both of these examples require approval from the relevant governing bodies before they can be used in your company name. By the same token if your new business offers financial services and you wish to use words like ‘Bank’ or ‘Insurance’ in your company name, you need permission from the Financial Services Authority before you can do so. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent unqualified people from performing skilled jobs and misleading unsuspecting members of the public.
Sensitive words synonymous with a brand
Unfortunately sensitive words that fall into this category are much easier to be caught out by. These are the ones that have become so synonymous with a particular company or brand that they now have control over where and how it is used. For example, if you wanted to include the word ‘Sheffield’ in your company name you would need to seek permission from The Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire.
Using ‘UK’ and ‘United Kingdom’ in your company name
It is generally acceptable to use ‘UK’ in your company name, but there is a clear distinction to be made if you want to have ‘United Kingdom’ at the start of your name. Using it in full will require you to present proof that you are the ‘pre-eminent’ company in your field because the name would give people the impression that you are.
Let us check your business name for sensitive words
Familiarising yourself with the list of sensitive words and expressions is one way of steering clear of them but it takes up valuable time that could be better spent securing a name for your business.
Use Business Name Checker to search for a business name with confidence.