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How do I change the name of my company?

When you incorporate a new company, you can feel like you've been put on the spot - what do you call your new company? This should be something that you should take care with - it's how your customers will know you. Although, that isn't technically true - you can change your business name.

Should I change the name of my company?

Before changing the name of your company, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Can you afford it? A business name change isn't just about the name, it's about everything attached to the name too - branding, stationery, logos, websites, just about anything that bears your name.
  • Are you established? If your business has a good reputation in its serving area, it could cost you business by changing your name. Consider a business who has been known as ABC Ltd for many years, suddenly changing to XYZ Ltd - would customers see it as the same business, or would they take their trade elsewhere?
  • Is it the name that needs to change? If you have a weak name that may be too generic or complicated (odd spellings, lengthy names or difficult to pronounce), then it could be the name that needs looking at. However, if you have the perfect name, perhaps it's just your branding that's off key and needs a refresh.

What's the process?

There are two routes to changing the name of your business:

  1. The members of the company (shareholders or guarantors) can pass a special resolution
  2. or the directors can vote to change it without the approval of the members

The latter option is only possible if the directors have this power granted to them through the articles of association. You would need to check the articles to see what route you need to take, and that should be the first step.

Once you know the method you need to use to change the name, you must then apply to Companies House to have this changed. Normal rules apply, such as target="_blank">sensitive words or expressions aren't permitted unless you have supporting documentation.

Changing the name by members

As the name has to be changed by special resolution, you would normally need a majority vote of 75% from your members. This would need to be 75% of the voting shares rather than shareholders (as shareholders can have more than one share). Someone with 10% of the shares, may have more voting power than someone with just 5% - it depends on the type of share too, as some shares are non-voting or some may be able to vote twice.

This doesn't have to be done at a general meeting. It is possible to pass a written resolution instead.

If the decision to change the name of the company is passed, the director should provide written confirmation of the decision to each member. All that's left to do is file the change with Companies House by filling in Form NM01.

Remember: You must file special resolutions with Companies House within 15 days of passing them

Changing the name by directors

If the articles of association permits, the directors can change the name of the company without consulting the shareholders. In this case, Form NM04 needs to be completed and filed with Companies House.

Save on paperwork

Company Wizard can file these changes for you electronically to make your life easier. Simply log into your account, click 'File a Change', and select 'Change Company Name' - Easy!

Changing the name of a company

What happens next?

Once you've submitted your application to change the name, Companies House will either approve or reject it. If approved, you will be issued a 'Certification of Incorporation on Change of Name', which is your confirmation document. As soon as you receive this, you can start using your new name. This doesn't replace your original incorporation document however, it's in addition to it, so keep both.

Remember: Keep these documents at your registered office or SAIL address, ready for inspection.

We've had confirmation - anything else?

You will need to change the company name on the bank account, as well as any agreements and contracts you have in place - the name should match the one registered with Companies House.

You should also consider updating any business stationery, signage, websites, email address and branding to match your new company name.

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