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What Are Sensitive Names, Words and Expressions?

A reserved word or a sensitive word is one whose usage in a company name is subject to certain restrictions laid by Companies House.

Assistance in Approval of Sensitive Names

As per Section 55(1) act of the Companies House, certain words and their usage are classed as sensitive and a prior approval of the Secretary of the State is required before using any of those in your company name.

While Companies House gives you significant freedom in deciding what to call your limited company however there are certain points which you must be aware about certain rules and restrictions laid down by the Companies House.

Can I Choose Any Name I Want For My Proposed Company?

There are certain rules and regulations laid down by the Companies House which you need to abide by before deciding name of your company and

  1. In case your company is a private limited company, its name must end with “limited”. However, if it is registered with Wales Office, it must end with “cyfyngedig” or with its permitted alternatives such as “ltd” or “cyf”.
  2. However, if you wish your company to be a public limited company or “plc”, with or without full stops. In case if it is registered with Wales Office, then its name must end with “cwmni cyfyngedig cyhoeddus” or “ccc” with or without full stops.

As per the Companies House, sensitive words are classified under three following categories:

  • Approval or Support of an Official Body: Words or names listed under this section must seek support of the prescribed official body. Without having the same one cannot and must not use the listed words while registering their limited company with the Companies House.
  • For Example:
    • If you want to use the word “Accredit/Accreditation/ Accredited/ Accrediting” in your proposed name, you would be required to submit a no-objection certificate or letter from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
    • If you want to use the expression “Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru” in your proposed name, you need to submit a No-Objection letter or email from the Wales Audit Office: Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru 24 Heol y Gadeirlan Caerdydd CF11 9LJ Auditor General for Wales Wales Audit Office 24 Cathedral Road Cardiff CF11 9LJ
    • If you want to use the word “Assurance/Assurer” in your proposed name, you need to submit a No-Objection letter or email from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA): Sensitive Business Names Team Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) 25 The North Colonnade Canary Wharf London E14 5HS
  • Requirements or Conditions Specific: If you are using the names or words listed under this section would require you to add either certain clauses or certain assurances into the articles of the Company. However, certain names listed in this section would also require taking support or approval from the prescribed body.
  • For Example:
    • If you are using the word “Agency” in your proposed name, you need to ensure that it does not imply any connection with a government department or body or with a local or specified public authority.
    • If you are using the word “Border Agency/Border Force”, you need to take a No-Objection Letter or Email from the Home Office because chances are very high that it could imply a connection with the UK Border Force or UK Visas and Immigration. Home Office Direct Communications Unit 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF
    • If you are using the word “Cabinet” in your proposed name, you need to include a No-Objection Letter or Email from the Cabinet Office. Cabinet Office 70 Whitehall London SW1A 2AS
  • Restricted because of its Legal Implications: Names or Words listed under this section need to be used very carefully because if relevant permission or support is not taken, the usage of same could lead to criminal offence if used in a company name. In case you want to use the listed names, you need to contact the concerned regulatory body to get the required approval i.e. words like “Dentist” or “Solicitor” represent professional body.
  • For Example:
    • In case you wish to use the word “Anzac”, you cannot use the same because it is an offence to use the same in connection with any trade, business or profession.
    • If you want to use word “Architect” in your proposed name, you need to submit an authorization email or letter from the Architects Registration Board. Architects Registration Board 8 Weymouth Street London W1W 5BU
    • If you want to use the word “Contact Lens/Contact Lenses” in your proposed name, you need to submit evidence stating that you are a registered medical practitioner, optometrist or dispensing optician and are authorized to conduct this activity. However you need to be very clear in your application that if you are intended to manufacture or supply the contact lenses or fit the same
    • In case you wish to use the word “Faster/Higher/Stronger” you need to seek the relevant views of the British Olympic Association because this expression, its plurals, its translation and anything similar is protected by The Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995.e British Olympic Association 60 Charlotte Street London W1T 2 NU

The main intention behind listing certain names under sensitive name section is to stop the company name from becoming misleading.

For example, if you wish to use the word “international” in your proposed name of the company for trading purpose, you need to acquire relevant permission from the concerned body which can provide assurance that within first five years of trading, you can trade within the boundaries of two other countries and thus living up to its name.

Before you zero down on a name or options for the same, you must check the Companies House Index for any existing name to avoid any conflicts later.

A name which is “same as” another name on the index of the Companies House if it is similar to an already existing name or if it is considered to be same as the existing one because the only difference between the old and the new one is minor which is not considered by the law.

However, while you compare the names on the Companies House Index, you must disregard the following:

  • Punctuation marks such as full stop, comma, colon, semi colon, hyphen, apostrophe, bracket, exclamation mark, question mark etc;
  • Permitted characters such as “*”, “=”, “#”, “%”, “+” in case they are used as one of the first three characters in a name;
  • If there is “s” at the end of the name;
  • If there is “the” and “www” at the beginning of the name;

However, when two companies fall under the same group and have names that differ only by certain words and expressions such as “company”, “UK”, “United Kingdom”, “org.uk”, “international” etc, you need to take consent from the already existing company and the consent letter need to be submitted along with your application to the Companies House.

For Example:

If Food Limited is already registered with the Companies House and you wish to choose any of the below mentioned names for your own company, your application for the same will be rejected:

  • Food-S Limited or Ltd;
  • F & S Public Limited Company (or PLC);
  • F & S Services Limited or Ltd;
  • @H & S Limited or Ltd;
  • Food: Limited or Ltd;
  • # F&S Limited or Ltd;

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