List of “sensitive” company names to be reduced

The Government has today announced measures to cut the list of ‘sensitive’ names that startup businesses must get approval for, prior to setting up a company.

Previously, businesses wanting to use words such as ‘Authority’, ‘Board’, ‘European’, ‘Group’, ‘International’ and ‘National’ (or the Welsh and Gaelic equivalents) in their names needed to get prior approval from Companies House, or a specified body. It is hoped that the removal of this requirement will result in a quicker process for companies wishing to use a ‘sensitive’ word or expression in their registered name.

There are currently over 150 words and expressions on the ‘sensitive’ list, which will now be reduced by a third. The changes will come into force next year.

The words and expressions to be retained are those which, when misused, are likely to cause confusion as to what the business actually does or has the legal authority to do. These words, amongst others, include ‘Accredited’, ‘Bank’, ‘Chamber of’, ‘Charity’, ‘Institute’, ‘Government’, and ‘University.’ The word ‘Sheffield’ is to be retained on the list after responses to the consultation showed support to keep it. The same applies to national words such as ‘English’, ‘Scottish, ‘Northern Irish’, ‘Welsh’ and ‘Cymru.’

Business Minister Jo Swinson said:

“Making life easier for startup businesses will help to create a stronger economy. Rules on certain types of words shouldn’t be an additional hurdle, so reducing the list of company names needing approval makes sense.

“However, we also need to make sure that businesses can’t pass themselves off as something they’re not. We have struck a balance which reduces the regulations on new businesses, but that also keeps historic and sensitive names rightfully on the list.”

Companies House currently receive about 30,000 applications to incorporate per month. About 4,800 of these contain prescribed words and approximately 70% of these are ultimately accepted.


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