Whether part of a re-branding exercise or simply to correct an error – it’s easy to change your company name. Indeed, according to Companies House over 50,000 UK companies changed their name in the year to December 2013. For most company change of name requests there’s no need to spend a fortune if you take advantage of a simple online solution such as Inform Direct; you can complete the application process in a matter of moments.
In this guide we take you step by step through the simple process of changing your company name. Here we assume that you’ve already found a new company name, but our guide to naming a business contains lots of ideas if you’re stuck for inspiration. Our explanation on the rules around company names should also help for this.
Before you submit your change of name request:
Having chosen your new company name, you must first obtain authorisation from the company for the change before submitting your request to Companies House. The Companies Act 2006 sets out two methods by which the change may be authorised – although for the majority of companies only the first method is suitable:
1 Passing a special resolution
In most instances the Companies Act 2006 requires that a special resolution be passed to secure shareholder approval of the new name. A resolution is simply a formal way by which the company can propose a decision for the shareholders to approve, and in another article we’ve looked at special resolutions in particular.
A special resolution can be passed in one of two ways, either at a general meeting or by a written resolution.
The general meeting where a resolution is presented can either be at the annual general meeting or a meeting called especially to consider the resolution (perhaps alongside others). The notice of the meeting must, however, include the exact text of the special resolution. For a special resolution to be passed, a majority of at least 75% of those eligible must vote in favour of it.
You can adapt and use our free template special resolution on change of name for use at a meeting to obtain shareholder approval of the new company name.
If you are a private company it is not necessary for you to arrange a shareholder meeting to approve the new name. Instead, either the directors or shareholders can propose a written special resolution which they circulate to all members eligible to vote. The Companies Act 2006 s283 requires that the written resolution state that it is a special resolution and again it must be passed by a majority of not less than 75% of members eligible to vote.
Inform Direct provide a free template written special resolution for change of name for you to complete and circulate to all company members eligible to vote.
2 Provision in the articles of association
For some companies seeking to authorise a change of name, an alternative approach may be available. If your company was incorporated with bespoke articles of association it may be worth checking whether they contain any special provisions enabling the directors to change the company name without shareholder approval.
However, if like most companies yours was incorporated with model articles you must obtain shareholder approval of any change to company name, in the way described above, via a special resolution.
Having obtained approval of the new company name, you are now ready to complete your change of name application and submit it to Companies House.
The quick and simple way to file a change of name request:
It’s possible to complete a paper application (form NM01 or NM04) and post this to Companies House, together with a copy of the special resolution (if this is applicable). However, this method can take a week or more to process and the change of company name won’t be effective until it’s processed by Companies House.
Instead, most companies now choose to file their application online, taking advantage of a simple dedicated solution such as Inform Direct. Approval can usually be received from Companies House in as little as 3 hours if you file online.
Using Inform Direct to submit your company change of name application you will complete in just 3 simple steps:
1 Check your new company name:
- Register your company for free then:
- Click on the “Change company name” button found on the “Company” tab.
- Type your proposed new company name into the name checking field.
Our intelligent software will communicate directly with Companies House to establish whether your new company name is both available and complies with current naming rules.
2 Indicate how the change of company name has been approved:
Having checked that your new company name is likely to be accepted by Companies House, you simply:
- tick to confirm whether the new name has been approved by passing a special resolution or by provision in the articles.
- If using a special resolution, you now confirm you have held a shareholder meeting or circulated the written resolution and enter the date the resolution was approved.
3 Check and confirm the details:
You will now be given the opportunity to check the details you have provided before pressing “Confirm” to electronically submit your completed change of company name application to Companies House.
Inform Direct will send you immediate confirmation that your application has been safely received by Companies House.
Companies House approval – what happens now:
As soon as Companies House has accepted your application to change your company name they will enter the new name on the register and issue a Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name.
Your new company name will become effective from the date on the Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name.
Inform Direct will email you the certificate as soon as it has been issued. We will also automatically update your company records within Inform Direct, including your complete suite of electronic statutory registers – saving you an often overlooked and time-consuming task.
Online applications are much quicker and more reliable than posting paper forms to Companies House. You will normally receive approval within just 3-5 hours of submitting your completed change of name application – although this can vary, dependent upon the volume of applications received by Companies House at any one time.
Getting started is simple. Just sign up for free and follow the on screen process to complete your company set-up. Using Inform Direct to submit your change of name request to Companies House is as simple as 1-2-3!