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How to Register a Business Name in the UK

Written by, Bojana Atanasovska

Updated April, 17, 2022

If you’ve recently started a new one from scratch or plan to establish one, you’ll probably need to register your business name.

If you want to learn how to register a business name in the UK, how to find out if the name you want is available, or what to do after, read on. 

Registering a Company Name

All new business owners need to register a new business name.

 If you’ve never registered a business name before, here’s how to do it.

1. Choose a business name

Your business name is your brand and will be displayed in all official communications and documents, so it’s important to choose one that’s in line with your company’s brand and values. You’ll also need to make sure that the name isn’t taken.

2. Register a  new business name

Once you’ve confirmed that your chosen business name is available, you can register it by filling out a company name registration form on the Companies House website. You’ll need to provide some basic information about your business (address and date of incorporation). 

There’s also a £12 registration fee for setting up a new business name in the UK. 

3. Receive a registration certificate

Once you register your company, you’ll receive a certificate of incorporation from Companies House. This document confirms that your company is registered and legally compliant. You’ll need the certificate to open a business bank account or apply for other official documents.

4. Select a SIC code for your business

A SIC code is a six-digit number that categorises businesses by industry. The code can be found in the Index of Standard Industrial Classification Codes on the GOV.UK website. Since every businesses category operates differently, they also follow a different set of rules and regulations. Also, selecting the wrong SIC code could lead to fines or even imprisonment.

5. Select a company director

The company director has the final say in key decisions on behalf of the company, which is why it’s crucial to pick the right man for the job.

They have to be 16+ years old by law, suitable for the role, and have the necessary skills and experience. The company director should be committed to running the company and have the time and resources to do so.

6. Create a share structure 

When you set up a company, you’ll need to decide on its share structure. This is the system that determines how the company’s ownership is divided among its shareholders. The two main types of share structures are: 

  • Single shareholder/single director companies, where the owner of the company is the sole trader. This is the simplest type of company to set up and is ideal for freelancers or small businesses with a single owner.
  • Multi-shareholder companies, where there is more than one shareholder. This type of company is more complex to set up and requires a Memorandum and Articles of Association. It is ideal for larger businesses with multiple owners.

7. Select shareholders or People With Significant Control

This is done by registering the company’s shareholders or People with Significant Control (PSC).

You must provide the following information about each PSC:

  • Name
  • Birthdate
  • Nationality
  • Occupation
  • Service Address 
  • Shareholding (if applicable)
  • Any other information that is relevant to their control of the company.

You can replace your PSC(s) at any time. After making changes to the register, you’ll have to notify Companies House within 14 days.

8. Sign a statement of compliance

You will be required to sign a statement of compliance, confirming that you have read, understood, and agree to comply with all the relevant regulations.

How Do I Find Out if My Company Name Is Available?

All businesses are legally required to have a unique company name and are prohibited from using a name that’s already trademarked.

 There are several places where you can check if your business name is taken.

Upcoming business owners in the UK usually start with the Companies House website. This government body is responsible for registering and regulating companies in the UK. 

You can also try an online company name-checking service. These services comb through a wide range of databases to see if your company name exists.

Finally, you can contact an IP lawyer for advice. They’ll be able to tell you whether your name is trademarked and whether you’ll need to make any changes before you can start using it. 

What Happens After You Set Up a Business Name?

Once you have registered your business name in the UK, your company will be listed in the Companies House register and you will receive an official certificate of incorporation, which confirms that the company is a legal entity. 

You’ll then need to 

  • Register your businesses for corporation tax 
  • Create a business bank account
  • Start keeping financial documents

You will also need to open a business bank account and register for VAT if your annual turnover exceeds £85,000.

Bottom Line

Registering a business name is often the first step in building a brand. If you’re wondering how to register a business name in the UK, the good news is you can do it online by filling out an application with the Companies House. There are a few legal requirements you’ll have to comply with and if you’re unsure about any part of the process, you can always reach out to a lawyer. 

Bojana is my name and writing is my game. I am a content writer from Bitola who is always interested in the latest research in almost all areas of life. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a perfectionist character, both of which help me find the most accurate data and information available. Although I have my head stuck in studies and reports most of the time, I still have a bit of free time during which I enjoy knitting and watching classic 90’s Disney movies.