Choosing an appropriate name for your hospitality business can make a big difference when it comes to attracting trade. If you are planning a new restaurant, bar or catering business, imagine the frustration if the perfect name you have settled upon cannot be used because a similar one has already been registered.

When setting up a limited company (Ltd), or partnership (LLP, LP) the name must be registered name with Companies House. There are various restrictions on the name that can be chosen, for example, the name cannot be the “same as” another registered company name and must not contain a “sensitive” word.

Until recently there were a number of Statutory Instruments relating to business names and trading disclosures. However, fortunately in future you will have more scope on naming your business. On 31 January 2015 a new Statutory Instrument came into force which consolidated previous ones into one piece of legislation – The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015.

The new Regulations have been introduced as part of the Government’s promise to reduce red tape and the regulatory burden on businesses by simplifying and consolidating regulations where possible. The aim of the new regulation is to simplify the process of registering a company name and to reduce the times that a company might have a proposed name rejected with all the delay and cost associated with this.

Main changes

The new Regulations have introduced the following changes:

  • The list of characters which a company name can include has been extended. Previously names could only use the Roman alphabet and a small number of additional characters. The list is now much more extensive including a variety of accents, diacritical marks and ligatures. As a consequence of adding to the list of characters that a name can include the “same as” provisions have also been modified.
  • When determining whether a name is the “same as” the name of a previously registered company certain words are ignored. The list of words to be ignored has been reduced and the following are no longer to be ignored – export, group, holdings, imports, international, services. For example Catering Exports Ltd will not now be regarded as the “same as” Catering Imports Ltd. Under the old provisions the 2 names would have been regarded as the same and the application to register the second name would have been rejected.
  • The list of sensitive words which cannot be included in a company name has been reduced. The following are no longer regarded as sensitive words: abortion, authority, banknote, board, data protection, disciplinary, discipline, European, giro, group, holding, human rights, international, national, oversight, pregnancy termination, register, registered, registration, registry, regulation, rule committee, United Kingdom, watchdog
  • If a company is located in an office occupied by 6 or more companies it may make its name available for inspection on a register. There is no longer a requirement to continually display the details of all the companies where 6 or more share one location.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.