Sensitive Words in Company Names That Imply Pre-eminence

Selecting a company name is not always as easy as you may first think. In addition to the fact that there are over 2 million names in use on the register, Companies House has a list of words or expressions that they deem to be ‘sensitive’.

The following words imply national or international pre-eminence:

British - approval of this word in your company name will depend on how it is used. Normally the Secretary of State would expect the company to be British owned. You would need to show that the company is pre-eminent in its field by providing supporting evidence from an independent source such as a Government department or a trade association.

If the word 'British' is qualified by words that do not describe an activity or product, for example by using a 'made-up' word, then evidence of pre-eminence is not necessarily essential. But you would be expected to show that your company is substantial in relation to its activity or product and that it is eminent in its own field.
England, English, Scotland, Scottish, Wales, Welsh, Ireland or Irish - if you wish to use these words as a prefix to your company name, the rules are similar to those for 'British'. You will usually be given approval to use any of these words as a suffix if you show that the company has its main place of business in the country concerned. For example, the company name IT DEVELOPMENT SCOTLAND LIMITED would most likely be allowed if the business is based in Scotland. However, the company name SCOTTISH IT DEVELOPMENT LIMITED would be rejected as it implies pre-eminence. If you want to use one of these words because it is a surname, you will usually be given approval if the company name includes forenames or initials. Therefore if your name is John England, the company name J ENGLAND ASSOCIATES LIMITED would be OK.

European - names which include this word will not be approved if they unjustifiably imply a connection with official bodies of the European Union. If there is a genuine connection with an official body, the name may be allowed if the appropriate body supports the application. In general most company names that use the word European are OK.
Great Britain or United Kingdom - if you wish to use these expressions as a prefix, or to use 'of Great Britain' or 'of the United Kingdom' as a suffix, then the criteria are the same as for 'British'. If the words are used as a suffix to the name, they are normally allowed without difficulty. Using the initials 'GB' or 'UK' in your company name does not require approval.
International - if you wish to use this word as a prefix, you need to show that the major part of the company's activities is in trading overseas. If you wish to use it as a suffix, then approval will usually be given if you can show that the company operates in two or more overseas countries. When the company is being formed supporting evidence has to be supplied to Companies House. We can assist you with this.
National - the criteria for use of this word are the same as for 'British'.


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