Q&A: Displaying company names

Contributor -

Written by Andrew Millet.

A sign on a wall outside business premises

If you run a limited company, you must display a sign with your company name at your registered office. Andrew Millet of Wisteria Formations explains the rules about where and when you must display your company name

Where and how must I display my company name?

You must display your company name at its registered office and at the place where it keeps its company records for inspection. This does not apply to dormant companies.

You must also display your company name at any place you carry out business. However, if the location is used primarily for accommodation (for example, if it is the director's home), the company will be exempt.

Must I include my company name on business correspondence and documentation?

Yes, in hard copy, electronic or any other form, including your company stationery, bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements, cheques and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed by or on behalf of the company. Bills of parcels, invoices, receipts and letters of credit must also bear your registered company name. Obviously, it must be stated clearly on your website and all other electronic communication.

How big does the sign need to be?

Your name must be in characters that can be read with the naked eye and it must be displayed continuously. If the office, place or location where you work is shared by six or more companies, each company is only required to display its registered name for at least fifteen continuous seconds at least once in every three minutes. This is to allow electrical displays with alternating names.

Must I show any other company details?

Yes, on all your stationery, business correspondence, etc - whether hard copy or electronic - in legible lettering, you must show in which part of the UK your company is registered: For example, companies registered in England and Wales must include either 'Registered in England and Wales', 'Registered in England', 'Registered in Wales', 'Registered in London' or 'Registered in Cardiff'. In Scotland it's 'Registered in Scotland' or 'Registered in Edinburgh'. Then you include the company's registered number and address of its registered office. If a business letter, for example, mentions more than one address, you should state which one is the registered office.

Must I display directors' names?

On your business stationery, etc, you don't have to, but if you do, you must state the names of all company directors - you cannot be selective.

Are there special rules for charitable companies?

Section 68 of the Charities Act 1993 provides that a charitable company whose name does not include the word 'charity' or 'charitable' must state that it is a charity on company documents. The relevant legislation in Scotland is the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

What if the company is being wound up?

If the company is being wound up or is in administration or receivership or a moratorium is in force in respect of its debts, every invoice, order for goods, business letter or order form - hard copy or electronic - must contain a statement that the company is being wound up.

Does the published company name have to be the same as the registered name?

Minor variations are permitted, including the case of the letters, use of punctuation, accents, etc and formatting. However, the differences must not result in there being a risk of confusion.

What is a company required to disclose after receiving a written request?

Any person dealing with a company may make a written request for that company to disclose the address of its registered office, where and what company records are kept. The company must send a written response to that person within five working days of the receipt of that request. If the company fails to comply, all its officers will be considered to be committing an offence and they may be liable to a fine.

Written with expert input from Andrew Millet of Wisteria Formations.

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