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How to register a business name: Everything you need to know

If you’re setting up a limited company, your first step is to register your business name.

But how do you do it properly and what do you need to look out for?

Here’s your helpful guide on how to register your company's name.

How to register a business name: everything you need to know

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What is your business name? 

Before you get the enjoy the benefits and rewards of being a limited company, you’ll need a business name.

Your business name is your unique trading title and will be the legally registered name of your business.

The process of registering your business name is called incorporation, at the end of which you will be a registered limited company. However, the process has multiple stages and is full of little complexities.  

Why be a limited company? 

Incorporating as a limited company comes with plenty of advantages, which explains why it is by far the most popular form of business incorporation in the UK.

As many as 93 per cent of all private businesses in the UK are limited companies, coming to a grand total of just over 4.5 million.  

For many people, limited companies offer a way to be their own boss.

Many limited companies are people working as contractors or self-employed people, due to attractive benefits including their tax efficiency and ease of creation. 

Primarily though, setting up a limited company lets you start operating as a business without the same risks that other business organisations carry.

Should a limited business fall on hard times, the personal assets of the main shareholders are protected. This is because a limited company is its own legal entity, relying on its own money to support itself, and not being intertwined with the finances of a sole trading owner. 

Keep reading to find out exactly how to register your business name...

How much does it cost to register a business name? 

Registering a business name is a multi-stage process and you’ll need to be organised in advance to ensure it all goes smoothly.

Thankfully though, the cost of registering your business name doesn’t need to be a source of stress – it only costs £12 to register your name with Companies House.  

How do you choose a business name? 

You might already have a preferred business name, but if it’s already been taken by someone else, it’ll be no good for you.

Your registered name needs to be unique, appropriate and can’t contain any words that imply your business has qualifications, accolades, or is organised in a way that it isn’t.

So for instance, your name can’t include words like Accredited, LLP, or PLC if none of these are true for your business.  

You can check available business names using the government’s online tool. 

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Register with Companies House 

Companies House is the branch of the government that keeps official records of all limited companies in the UK.

You will need to register with Companies House, which will automatically register you to pay corporation tax.  

To register fully with Companies House, you will need to include a SIC code and decide your official business address.

A SIC code describes your main business activity and can be anything from manufacturing of motorcycles or drinks to agricultural production of crops.  

Your business address is very simply the address to which your business is limited. This could be your own personal home or an office address.  

Detail your company organisation 

You will then need to outline your company’s organisation and individuals with significant control.

First of all, your company will need at least one director. This director will be responsible for running the business and ensuring that the business’ reports and company accounts are up to date.

This director will also need to provide two addresses: a publicly available service address and a personal one that remains private.  

You will then need to detail your company’s share structure. You can decide how many shares your limited company has, and what their value is.

For instance, if your company has 100 shares and one share is priced at £5, your company has an aggregate nominal share value of £500.  

Finally, you will then need to detail which significant individuals own shares in your company.

In essence, who owns the company financially. You must have at least one shareholder, and if this is you, then you own 100 per cent of the shares of your company.  

You will need to outline the key information about each individual shareholder and briefly describe their role and responsibilities within the business, for example, whether they have voting rights or have the power to make appointments. 

How do you choose significant individuals? 

Depending on what kind of business you want to run, you can choose to run a limited company with multiple different shareholders and directors. Or you could choose to be the only significant individual in your business.  

One advantage of being a limited company is that you’ll be setting up a company where different individuals can have differing levels of responsibility and ownership of the firm.

So, whether you are looking to build a company where there are different individuals with levels of control in the business, or one where you are effectively self-employed, the choice of how many significant individuals you have in a limited company is yours.  

Certificate of incorporation 

Once you have completed all the steps, you will be an incorporated company.

You will then receive an official certificate of your incorporation that proves your status as a registered limited company.  

Running a business isn’t easy.

From getting your accounting right to taking on the right financial feedback, speaking to a qualified accountant can help you get things right.

Find the right expert for you with Unbiased.


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About the author
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.