How To Change A Limited Company Name

A good business name should be something memorable that sets your business apart and encourages customers or clients to trust you over your competitors.

That’s a lot of pressure to get right, and you might find that the name you started out with doesn’t hit the mark. Or, as you’ve grown, it’s not right for your business. 

One of the benefits of having a limited company is that it’s possible to change your name and carry on trading. This means you can have a second (or third, or fourth) chance at getting the perfect name for your company. 

Changing your name doesn’t come without its risks, though. So, in this guide to how to change a limited company name, we’ll go through the nitty-gritty details about how to change your name, the risks involved and alternative solutions if you find it’s not the right solution for you. 

Why change your business name? 

There are a couple of reasons that you might want to change your business name. Such as… 

You’ve outgrown it

Businesses change and adapt over time – it’s a natural part of their life cycle. Although you could have started with one core product or service, you might have expanded to a vast range.

And although some people like to keep a reminder of their humble beginnings, if your name isn’t reflecting the business you are today, it might be time for a change. 

When changing your name, you don’t have to go for a dramatic move away from what you currently are. For example, Apple started as Apple Computers.

But as they advanced to a wide range of products from Phones, iPods, Tablets, Watches and so on, they decided to drop the ‘Computers’ part from their name. They had outgrown that caveat, so the name reflected that growth. 

Lost the buzz for your business?

Starting a business is exciting. Succeeding is rewarding. The bit between is hard, repetitive, and full of self-doubt. 

The Lonely Middle Club (From Business4Beginners) helps you through it:

Get support and advice from other small business owners

Remove the self-doubt that’s holding your business back

Learn techniques and strategies to grow your business faster

Be inspired with our exclusive ‘swipe’ file and AI-powered tools

No pressure – work at YOUR pace, towards YOUR goals

You’ve expanded regions or changed owners

Similar to outgrowing your name in terms of product, you could have also expanded into new geographical regions or even changed owners.

So if your business was named after the area you served, or the owner, it might be time to change your name to reflect this growth.

For example, ‘Manchester Carpet Cleaning Co.’ could be renamed to just ‘The Carpet Cleaning Co’ (assuming the name is available) to reflect your move out of the region. 

Likewise, if your business was named after its owner, who is no longer part of the company, or if you want to promote yourself as a bigger brand, you might want to drop your name. 

Main Newsletter - General Opt-in

Enjoying this article?

Get the latest small business advice in your inbox

Get more articles like this when you join our exclusive email newsletter packed with regular updates & business-boosting tips.

You can unsubscribe at any time. See our Privacy Policy.

Your name isn’t standing out 

If your business is being confused with another business, or if customers fail to remember your name, it might be time for a change.

Your company name needs to stick in your customers’ minds – so that when they need your services, they know exactly who to go to. 

You are being forced to change your name 

Lastly, you could be legally forced to change your name. This could happen if you receive a demand from another company for breaking their trademark or registering a name that is too similar to their own.

If this is the case, make sure you spend extra time making sure your new name is allowed before you register a change. 

Recommended Company Name Change Service:

If you’re looking for an affordable way to change your company name without having to complete lots of complex forms yourself, we recommend using the 1st Formations ‘Change of Company Name’ service.

For a very reasonable fee, they’ll complete and file the NM01 form at Companies House and also provide all related documents such as a resolution, minutes, and certificate of name change.

Click here to visit their site

Is changing your business name a risk? 

Changing your business name can be a risk, particularly if you’ve already built a lot of brand awareness and recognition.

Changing your name can risk losing the loyalty that you’ve built up, as customers might think that you’ve stopped trading or have been replaced by someone else. 

But, that doesn’t mean that business name changes aren’t worth it. In fact, here are some companies you might not have realised that have gone through a name change…

Google

The tech behemoth is the world’s most used search engine. But it didn’t always have this name and actually started out as ‘BackRub’. I’m not sure about you, but ”BackRubbing’ an answer when you don’t know it doesn’t have the same ring to it… 

Amazon

One of Amazon’s early names was Relentless. But eventually, it was renamed because Relentless sounded too intense for an online book retailer. Personally, Relentless makes me think of an energy drink rammed full of caffeine, which doesn’t work for the brand. 

Sony 

When Sony created the first transistor radio in 1955, it did so under the name Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. But they wanted a name that Americans could easily pronounce, so instead renamed to Sony. 

Yahoo

Yahoo was created by Jerry Yang and David Filo, two PhD students at Stanford. Although the pair were able to build a search engine to rival Google – they weren’t as great with names.

Their first one was a very humble name of ‘Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web’. Yahoo is much catchier (even if it does stand for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle). 

Don't forget to change your business cards after you change your company's name.

If you’ve decided that changing your company name is the right move for you, then let’s not delay any further and get into the steps you need to take to own your brand new name. 

There are two ways that you can change your name. The first is to manually go through the whole process yourself and deal directly with the Companies House. Or, if you don’t want to fill in the paperwork yourself, you can use a company formation agent to do this on your behalf. 

Of course, if you prefer not to change your company name, you could always use a ‘trading as’ name instead.

With a ‘trading as’ name, you’ll keep your company name as your legal registered business name, but you would use your ‘trading as’ name when dealing with customers. Though you will still need to use your official company name on things like websites, contracts, and invoices.

Top-Rated Company Formation Agents

Formation AgentCheapest PackageAdd On ServicesOur RatingReviewOfficial Site
1st Formations£12.99Excellent
9.4
Read ReviewVisit Website
qcf-logo£11.99Excellent
9.4
Read ReviewVisit Website
ANNA ReviewFREEAverage
9.4
Read ReviewVisit Website

View All

How to manually change a limited company name 

If you’re going down the manual route, you’ll need to follow these 4 key steps. 

1. Decide on your new name 

First, make sure that you’re 100% settled and committed to your new company name. There’s no point going through this process just to change it again down the line, so make sure that you’re happy. 

You can use our guide to coming up with a catchy business name, here.

What’s more, you need to make sure that your new name follows the rules for company names. In case you’re unfamiliar, this means that your new name cannot:

  • Be offensive, or contain inappropriate language or swear words.
  • Be used by another registered company. The easy way to check this is by using the company name availability tool below.
  • Use any sensitive words without a letter of non-objection or evidence from the relevant body. For example, you cannot use the word ‘Accredited’ in your name without being officially accredited for that industry. The full list of sensitive words can be found here. 
  • Imply that your company is connected with a government body, local or public authority – without express permission. 
  • Is not extremely similar to another company’s registered name, or uses any registered trade mark. For example, you couldn’t register the name ‘Tom’s coca-cola corporation’. 

It’s also a good idea to check if the domain name of your new company name is available for you to register. This will make changing your online website and name easier. 

2. Decide which method of name change you will use

To change the name of a limited company, you must either have a special resolution or gain permission through means provided in your articles of association. This sounds very complex, so let’s break it down a little. 

A special resolution is basically where the name change is brought up at a board meeting, and the shareholders vote on whether to ahead with the name change. At least 75% of your shareholders must agree to this change to go ahead. 

Means provided in your company’s article of the association are any other methods outlined by your company. 

Recommended Company Name Change Service:

If you’re looking for an affordable way to change your company name without having to complete lots of complex forms yourself, we recommend using the 1st Formations ‘Change of Company Name’ service.

For a very reasonable fee, they’ll complete and file the NM01 form at Companies House and also provide all related documents such as a resolution, minutes, and certificate of name change.

Click here to visit their site

3. Apply to change your name with Companies House 

Once that is decided, you need to apply to Companies House to register your new name change and pay the associated fees. 

You can do this online, which will cost £8. Or, if you want a same-day service, you can upgrade for £30. You can also apply by post using form NM01. Applying by post will cost £10. 

4. Post your new name

Once your name change is approved by Companies House, you need to display it on all your form of communication. This includes: 

  • Your registered office or any physical locations that you own;
  • Your website and social media ;
  • Your business letters, notices and other official publications;
  • Your cheques or invoices;
  • Your orders for money, goods or services;
  • Your applications for licences to carry on a trade or activity.

Basically, any form of correspondence, license or insurance document you have, you need to change your name. 

FREE Download:

Set clear goals for your business

Plan and manage your time more effectively

Brainstorm ideas and log inspirations

Stay motivated and encouraged

Using a company formation agency to change your name 

If you want to save time, effort and money, you can use a company formation agent to change your company name on your behalf. All they will need is your new name and a few key pieces of information, and they’ll take the whole process from there. 

Within 3 working days, you’ll have your new name without having to fill out any forms yourself. Talk about easy. 

The only thing we need to remind you of is that your new company name should still align with the set guidelines (read step 1 for the manual process to get a reminder here).

Your company formation agent will be able to flag any possible errors or concerns with your name, but it’s always a good idea to get familiar with these rules before you get your heart set on something you can’t use. 

Photo of author
Author
Business4Beginners has been advising new businesses owners since 2013. The founder, Paul Bryant, has created, grown and sold several successful businesses and remains the editor and fact-checker of all content published on the site.
Share on:
Main Newsletter - Special Report

Why businesses fail eBook

SPECIAL REPORT:

Why 1 In 5 Businesses Fail In Their First Year

Download your FREE copy when you subscribe to our email newsletter with regular updates and business-boosting tips.

You can unsubscribe at any time.
See our Privacy Policy.