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 almost 60,000 UK companies changed their name in the year to December 2020 and 87.4% of those were filed electronically. For most change company name requests there’s no need to spend a fortune and if you take advantage of a simple online solution such as Inform Direct, you can complete the application process in a matter of moments.
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. You must do this before submitting your request to Companies House.
The Companies Act 2006 provides two methods by which the change may be authorised – although for the majority of companies only the first method will be available:
Company name change made simple
Inform Direct makes it easy to electronically submit a change of company name request to Companies House, with approval often taking as little as 3-5 hours.
1 Passing a special resolution
In most instances the Companies Act 2006 requires that a special resolution to change company name 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.
A special resolution can be passed in one of two ways, either at a general meeting or by a written resolution.
At a general meeting
This should be at the annual general meeting or a meeting called specially to consider the resolution (perhaps alongside others).
- The notice of the meeting must 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.
By written resolution
Private companies are not required to arrange a shareholder meeting to change company name. Instead, either the directors or shareholders can propose a written special resolution which can be circulated 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 shareholders eligible to vote.
2 Provision in the articles of association
For some private companies an alternative procedure to change company name 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 authorise by board resolution the change of company name (with no need for shareholder approval.)
However, if like most companies yours was incorporated with model articles you must obtain shareholder approval by passing a resolution to change company name, in the way described above.
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 for approval by shareholder resolution or Form NM04 for approval by provision in the company’s articles). The paper form must be posted to Companies House, together with a copy of the special resolution (if this is applicable) and payment of the fee. However, this method can take ten days or more to process and the change of company name won’t be effective until it’s approved by Companies House.
Instead, almost 90% of companies now choose to file Companies House change of name requests online, taking advantage of a simple dedicated solution such as Inform Direct. If you file online, Companies House approval is often received in as little as 3 hours.
Using Inform Direct to submit your Companies House change of name application is simple and can be completed 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, 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 must 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 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 your change of name request has been approved Companies House 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.
This certificate should be kept at the registered office address or SAIL address (if the company has one), ready for inspection if required. Note that the Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name does not replace the original certificate of incorporation, which must be safely retained.
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 change company name application – although this can vary, dependent upon the volume of applications received by Companies House at any one time.
Inform Direct is the quick and simple way to change your company's name - for just £18 + VAT (including the Companies House fee).
A previous version of this article was originally published on 13 June 2014.