How To Change A Limited Company Name

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Your company name should represent the core of your business. It’s a literal label that highlights who you are, what you do and the values of your business.

Quite frankly, it’s a lot of pressure to get right – and as your business grows and develops, the name you started with might not be a true reflection of who your business is now. 

Whatever the reason for changing your limited company name – we’ll help you start fresh with an easy step-by-step process of how to change a limited company name.

How do you change a limited company 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 will use your ‘trading as’ name when dealing with customers. However, you will still need to use your official company name on things like websites, contracts, and invoices.

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How to change a limited company name manually

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 trademark. 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 forms 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, licence or insurance document you have, you need to change your name. 

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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. 

Do you need to rebrand your business? 

While undergoing a name change, it could be a good time to consider your business’s brand. Does your logo and website match your company’s new direction? Does the message you’re using match your strategy? 

Some of these answers will depend on why you wanted to change your limited company name in the first instance. If the name change is simply to ease confusion or expand your services, then your current branding will work fine with the new name (pending a new logo!). 

If the new name doesn’t work with your existing brand or if you’re changing it to give your business a fresh start, you might want to consider a rebrand. Then, you can launch your new name, fresh look and style all in one go. 

Final step: communicate your new name to customers 

No matter what method you used to change your company name, manually or through a formation agent, there is one final step: let your customers know.

Whether you’re doing a full rebrand or just tweaking the name, it’s important that you are transparent and open with customers about this change. There’s nothing more confusing than being surprised by a new business name. 

For a smooth and easy transition, we’d recommend: 

  • Pre-warning your existing customers. If you’re actively working with customers, let them know in your communications that you’re in the process of changing your name, so they’re not shocked when it goes through – particularly for clients that you might be working with throughout the entire change. For your wider audience, try teasing the upcoming change on social media to build a little buzz about what’s coming up. 
  • Making an official announcement. Once it’s all gone through, let your customers know about the change. Don’t be shy about this announcement; use every platform you have – social media, email, your website, in-store posters, etc. The more you put it out there, the more your audience will see and remember your new name. 
  • Explaining the change. This is important, especially if you’ve made a big change to your name. The first question customers will have is “why?”. Being able to promote why you’ve changed your name will help answer customers’ questions and give you a chance to promote your business in one fell swoop. For example, if you’ve changed your name because you’ve expanded services, this is a great opportunity to discuss what you’ve expanded into. 
  • Giving customers a grace period to adjust. During this time, you might want to use both names, e.g., ‘Google—Previously Backrub’. After a while, the ‘previously’ part can be dropped. 

The key to a successful launch is communication – the more you communicate and get the name out there, the more your audience will see and accept the change. 

Named for success 

There you have it, this is how to change a limited company name.

Changing your business name can be a great way to kickstart growth, establish a new strategic direction, or improve brand recognition.

The above guide provides all the information you need to carry out the process manually and offers tips on launching your new name to your customers. 

If you don’t want to do the paperwork yourself, remember that a company formation agent can carry out the renaming process on your behalf – saving you a lot of time, effort and stress. If you’re ready to get started, take a look at our best-reviewed company formation agents here. 

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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.
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