Start-ups made easier as restrictive names list is reduced

A third of a list of ‘sensitive’ start-up business names that otherwise would have been subject to approval before official registration has been cut by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Businesses that want to use words such as ‘Authority’, ‘Board’, ‘European’, ‘Group’, ‘International’ and ‘National’ and their Welsh equivalents have now been crossed off the list and will no longer need prior approval from Companies House.

The words that remain on the list have been kept on as, when misused can occasionally cause confusion over what the business does or has the legal authority to do. These include: ‘accredited’, ‘bank’, ‘chamber of’, ‘charity’, ‘institute’, ‘government’, ‘university’ and in some bizarre cases, ‘Sheffield’, which is to be retained after ‘responses to the consultations showed support to keep it.’

National-alluding words such as ‘English’, ‘Scottish’, ‘Northern Irish’, ‘Welsh’ and ‘Cymru’ are also to be kept on the list.

The cuts aim to reduce the time it takes Companies House to process all of the new business names applications, which currently stands at 30,000 applications per month, of which 4,800 contain ‘prescribed’ words and approximately 70 per cent of this number are eventually accepted.

Business Minister Jo Swinson said: “Making life easier for start-up businesses will help 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 struck a balance which reduces the regulations on new businesses. But that also keeps historic and sensitive names rightfully on the list.”