“Trading As” – Company and Business Names

It is quite a common occurrence in the UK for Limited Companies to adopt a “trading” name to run their business with. Having already carried out a company formation and registered a company with one name they find that they would rather run the business under another name. In some instances, a limited company may well run multiple businesses, with various different “trading” names, yet all under the umbrella of the same company. There are, or can be, a number of issues to consider when contemplating such a thing.

First of all, The Business Names Act 1985 imposes certain legal requirements on companies adopting this business technique. The most obvious point is the trading name cannot be the same as or similar to another company or business name in a way that might be confusing. In the same way that you cannot register a company name with the same name as a company that is already registered, you cannot register one company name (which is completely different) then use a trading name which is the same as a already registered (and trading) company name.

Secondly, the use of sensitive words is prohibited/regulated in use as part of a trading name in much the same way as it is for limited company names. So using words like “association”, “group”, “federation” and similar words is prohibited. Clearly, a company cannot use the word “limited” as part of its trading name as this implies registration of a limited company under that name.

Thirdly, if using a trading name as part of carrying out business, a company is required to display the appropriate information in all places where the business is carried out and on all documentation, invoices and alike. So for example, if ABC Limited is trading as XYZ, then they must make as much clear on a notice at their premises, on paperwork and website displaying – “ABC Limited trading as XYZ“.

The Pitfalls of “Trading As”.

The use of a trading name might seem appealing to most businesses as it is easier than registering a company under the new name. However, there are several pitfalls. The whole area of “trading as” is rather a mine field.

It’s clearly important to carry out a company name search to ensure that the trading as name is not already registered as a limited company. Sensible business people would also carry out other searches in local business directories, on the internet and in the phone book to make sure they are not going to step on anyone’s toes. Because a trading name is not registered as a limited company, it is not properly protected. There is always the danger that at a later date someone else may register the trading name as a limited company and then stake their claim. This could clearly cause complications for your business as they will have the right to the name and therefore can force you to stop using it. So it is advisable to carry out a company formation and register the trading name as a limited company, then keep that company dormant. This might seem to defeat the point in using a trading name, but because a dormant (non-trading) company is just that, the registration is low cost and maintenance is straightforward.

The other obvious danger is that someone else has the trading name registered as a trade mark. This could lead to costly legal battles and a headache for the company. It is advisable to carry out a trade mark search and a trade mark registration with regards to the business trading name, both in order to protect it from use from others and to ensure it has not already been registered.

This article is not meant to be comprehensive legal advice, the law is subject to change and is complex in nature with regard to trading names. Please consult a legal professional for full advice.

110 thoughts on ““Trading As” – Company and Business Names

  1. Dinah Kaneko

    By far the most concise and up to date information I found on this topic. Sure glad that I navigated to your page by accident. I’ll be subscribing to your feed so that I can get the latest updates. Appreciate all the information here

  2. Jason

    i run a company and did use a trading name a one point however i lost out on a large contract as when i was credit checked under my trading name it brought up false details of a company who had used the term before. if yo ulook into this as a option do your research first. Jason

  3. Dale

    It may be advisable to register a Trade Mark for the trading name with priority over the idea of registering a (dormant) company. This is more expensive, but if someone later decides to register a Limited Company in the same name as your ‘trading as’, IP laws come into force under ‘passing off’ in your favour, against that new business effectively using your Trade Mark. Of course things get expensive when it comes to defending your claim.

    Any comments on this?

    Also always good to ensure your company name is original, just as you would for a Trade Mark. So many companies out there are called “Cool” something or other!

  4. paul

    how does payment work if I am registered as XYZ Ltd and want to trade under ABC the bank account is set up in XYZ LTD will it accept payments to ABC? Thanks Paul.

  5. Richard


    Thanks for your question.
    The simple answer is yes, the bank will accept payments made out to the trading style – ie payments made to ABC.
    You will need to let the bank know that you plan to adopt a trading style(s) and they may ask for the company to pass a resolution and send a copy to them.
    Hope this helps.

  6. Aneel

    A very informative piece of information. I wonder if someone can clarify who the employees of a ‘Trading as’ company actually work for and what their contracts of employment should say – the limited business or the Trading as company.

  7. Steve Dickinson

    Quick question from me.

    I set up a Limited Company when I was negotiating to buy out my employer, a sole trader. The deal fell through and I now have a dormant Limited Company.

    Both names are the same, although mine is limited and his isn’t. Also his trading name isn’t trademarked. Would I have the legal right to operate a business using my limited company or does he prevail as he was using it first?

    Thanks in advance for any replies

  8. MD

    I have found this information really useful. I am currently deciding on what I need to about my business situation. I already have the business Limited company name, but I have been trading as a different name for a number of years and I’m looking to place it into a Ltd format now.

    Thanks for everyone’s input to this, and I hope this helps many others like myself.

  9. john

    I have an urgent question, cannot find the answer to it anywere!
    What are the penalties for holding yourself out as a limited company when you are not a limited company; ie, not listed on companies house but advertising yourself as abc ltd. What is the relevant legislation? (if any)

  10. Andrew Walker

    Hi we want to take over an already trading ltd company. Can we being a ltd company trade as the other ltd company? ies xyw ltd trading as ABC ltd

  11. Paul

    Hi Richard,
    to pauls question,
    i am in the same position and the bank has asked for a ‘border resolution’ form, do you have a template you can show me?

    Many thanks.

  12. Michael

    Can a company have three names trading at once all under the same roof for exactly the same registered with comanies house and providing the same service trade under a limited name T/A a fourth name? And issue cheques and invoices under the T/A name?

  13. Gulzar

    Hi, it is helpful blog, thank you
    Aside from Marketing advantages what are other benefits of having a trading name, eg XYZ .
    In relation to statutory requirements (accounts, annual returns, VAT if registered) would it make the management of ABC and XYZ any different?
    Thank you again

  14. Ty Fenton

    So, I am a sole trader, and am registered with the Inland Revenue. I trade with a different name, which is also on my Tax returns, and this trading name has been on my tax returns for at least the last 6 years, but I have just discovered a new company using the same name. But they are a limited company, so they are called {my trading name} Limited. Am I reading the article correctly that I have no rights to the trading name. My business name is in the Yellow pages, and on Yell.com, so a simple search for the business name within the county would yield results, ie , me. Any ideas where I stand ? Can I approach them, (we are in the same county), or will I risk losing my trading name, which my customers know me as ?

  15. Adrian

    Unfortunatley if your business name is not registered under the Business Names Act then you don’t have an exclusive right to it. However if the new company are in your area and are in the same business you may be able to challenge them under “passing off” rules. You would need to speak to a solicitor about this as it can be quite a lenghty and complicated process.

    Good Luck

  16. Adrian

    Having a trading name is basically for marketing purposes. It does not have any effect on your statutory rights in terms of accounts or VAT registration.


  17. Adrian

    Hi, Sorry for the delayed reply.
    You can use multiple trading names for the same limited company but you need to make sure that you declare that you are the Ltd company ‘Trading as X’ on any official documents including invoices.

    From a practical perspective, you would also need to notify the HMRC of your trading styles so that they can assign them to your tax registration number. Also, it would be advisable to inform your bank, to enable cheque and payments to be made in under those trading styles.


  18. Gemma W.


    I found this on the Companies House website in the FAQs:

    “Can I register my business?

    No. Since the Business Names Act 1916 was repealed on 26th February 1982, it is no longer necessary or possible to register a business name, and all files and records relating to previous registrations under that legislation have been destroyed. ”

    So trademarking is the way to go for getting exclusive rights I guess.

  19. Peter

    Kind of.
    If you are a sole trader there is no register of business names. If you are a limited company there is a register of company names and no other registered company can have the same name as you.

    However this does not stop either a sole trader or limited company ‘trading as’ a name which is the same or very similar to yours. You can try to protect your business name with a trade mark or simply challenge anyone else who comes along for “passing off”. Both are time consuming and potentially expensive methods as they rely on you taking people to court. Also neither are foolproof. Trademarking, for instance, normally only protects your name if someone is in the same business sector as you.

    Having said all of that registering a limited company and trademarking your name are both good deterrents. If you register as a limited company few people are likely to try and use the same name as you, and you will have a good case against them if they do. If you register a trademark as well the you will have an even better case.

    Unfortunately there is no absolute way of protecting your business name at the moment.

  20. faruk

    Hi – I have a dilemma. I have recently registered a ltd co. “abc ltd” developing mobile apps. Now I want to register another separate business “xyz ltd” selling mobile/internet/business services to SMEs. I have not yet opened a business bank account but have been using my personal bank a/c & credit card for purchases. I am trading from home at the moment. I do not know how to separate/distinguish between the activities/expenses of the 2 entities as I am working on both of them, using same PC etc.

    Will I need to open 2 separate bank accounts & file 2 annual returns? Or could I get away with “trading as” to make life simpler. I am just thinking of the future – plan to sell off the businesses as separate entities in around 5 years. Thanks

  21. Peter

    It depends how much money you have going through the businesses. If total income from both is less than, say £20,000 then the advantages of having two separate companies might be outweighed by the expense of setting up the 2 companies and doing all of the paperwork.

    If this is the case then you can use a single bank account and company and just use ‘trading as’ names to market them differently.

    If you keep a note in your bookkeeping software of what payments are for what company you could then separate them out later on if you need to.

    So basically, if you see the companies growing rapidly and taking a lot of money then it is worth the investment of time and money to separate them out. Get 2 bank accounts, 2 companies and divide everything up. If the company is not going to take a lot of money straight away run it as 1 company with trading names as this will make the paperwork and accounts simpler.

    Hope that helps.

  22. sonya

    Hi There

    I am currently a sole trader working as a hairdresser, i have been doing so for 3 years and now want to go into tanning and nails as well. Because my company name has the word ‘Hair’ in it i would prefer to market the tanning and nails in a different way and under a different name. The above information has been very helpful so thank you everyone! So am i right in saying i can set up a different company name that i ‘trade as’ under the umbrella of original name (making sure on advertising i have my original name on too). I also need to tell bank so i can receive and bank cheques into my current business account and notify HMRC of ‘trading as’ name too?! Is there anything else i have missed or need to know!??? Also i am happy for monies from both businesses to go into same account as i think this will less time consuming and less complicated, one book, one tax return! Thanks for your help and replies Sonya

  23. sonya

    Also guys,

    If i am not using my own name for the new company you have recommend i register the name. How much is the cost of that, am i right in thinking it around £150 !?

    Would it be a thought to set up new business completely separate and register it with HMRC or does that make for messy business with tax etc,

    Both businesses wont generate a high turnover as i am a sole trader so it seems a bit extreme to do this?!

    Your thoughts are much appreciated


  24. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Sonya,
    As a Sole Trader you can call your business whatever you like as long as you also put your real name on any paperwork (so Sonya trading as X). There is no need to have an umbrella company.

    You will need to let HMRC know about your new name. You should be able to do this yourself – http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/report-changes/business.htm#1
    Also, as you said, a good idea to tell the bank, check they are happy for you to use 1 account for all the bits of the business. It may also be worth letting your insurance company know.

    That’s it. No need to do anything else.

    As your business gets more complicated it may be worth becoming a limited company, this will help protect you from risks and debts.

    Hope that helps



  25. sonya

    Thanks Peter

    My current business if call S J Hair (My initials), does that count as having my name on it!? So just to clarify, If my new business for arguments sake is called The tanning booth, i would just need to put on all paperwork and advertising, ‘S J Hair’ trading as’ The Tanning Booth’ Is that right?



  26. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Your current business should be Sonya Jayne trading as SJ Hair. Your new business would be Sonya Jayne trading as The Tanning Booth.

    Because you are a sole trader you have to display your real name on any signs, websites or letters (this can be in small writing as long as it is readable).



  27. JB


  28. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    If you are trading you are not a dormant company. Whether you use the LTD or not makes no difference.

    With a Ltd company you can take a wage in a couple of different ways. You can register for PAYE and take a wage in the same way as with a normal job or you can pay yourself a dividend from the after-tax profits. If you take money out of the company in any other way it will probably be considered a director’s loan which you will have to pay tax on.

    Whatever you do you need to be making it clear what money you are taking from the business and what entity you are trading as. You can make the company dormant and then work as a sole trader as long as you make this clear to HMRC and do a self assessment tax return at the end of the year.

    It sounds like you may benefit from talking this over with an accountant to get some more specific advice on your situation.

  29. Natasha

    Hi, I’m looking to start a business with a friend so effectively we will be partners, and are going to be selling a product with our Brand Name on. What would be the best way to start a company as we are going to be too small to form a “Ltd” but am confused with whether we would be “Sole Traders” or “Trading as”. If someone could help that would be great!

  30. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Being sole traders is difficult if there are two of you as there is no formal way to divide the business (no shares). Effectively you would both be self employed. “Trading as” is just a different way to name the business not anything to do with the structure. To formally divide the business so that you can have equal shares etc. a Limited company or limited partnership would probably be best.

  31. Maria

    My ltd company is for example abc ltd but my shop is called xyz my bank account is abc ltd and all sales from xyz go into abc ltd bank account. No I want to sell the lease on my shop/business xyz does this mean I am selling abc ltd or just xyz.

  32. DanD

    Hello there
    I have a limited company which is currently trading as a design and IT consultancy but only with minimal turnover.
    My wife is looking to become a childminder, seeing as it is established and has trading history, plus I am comfortable running a ltd company would it be feasible to set up a ” trading as” company for her business and invoice customers as “xyz” trading as “abc”. I feel this would be simpler and more tax efficent than her becoming a sole trader.
    Any thoughts?

  33. SUZY

    We have a Ltd company and wish to t/a under another name although similar, I have checked and it is not already registered. Can we use this name for marketing purposes and still use the same VAT number, tax, bank account and ledgers for trading under this name? Our invoices would be in the ltd company name but stating trading as xxxxx.

    Can this be done?


  34. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Yes this is fine. All of the VAT, bank account etc can be under the limited company that you have registered and then you can trade as something else. You will need to let the bank and HMRC know that you are trading under a different name before you start though.



  35. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Yes you can do this. You just need to make sure that you keep it clear in the accounts what income is coming from where and make sure this is reflected in the annual returns that you do with Companies House.



  36. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    From what you have said there is only 1 company here (abc ltd) and I would image that the lease on the shop belongs to that company. Therefore it would be the company (abc ltd) that you are selling.

    However I would get a lawyer to check over the contracts to be sure before you go any further.



  37. Matt

    Thanks for the article. its very helpful.
    My parents are changing from a partnership to a ltd company but they have chosen the name “abc uk ltd” but they’ve just been trading as “abc” for 30 years will they have to register and mark on invoices “abc” as a trading name e.g “abc uk ltd T/A abc”?
    They did have the option of just “abc ltd” which was an old company now wound up and were worried about taking on their history


  38. sarah

    I hope someone can help me.
    I am currently doing accounts for a company. They have set a “trading as” company off the main company and I now have to do accounts for this also. From my understanding the accounts are suppose to go into the dataset off the main reg company. Is this correct or is there supposed to be a separate company opened on the sage dataset for the new t/a company?. Or even are both methods exceptable??
    I hope I have made sense. I know some one asked a question quiet like dis already but I am having probs grasping it..thanks guys.

  39. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    They will need to put their full official name in the small print at the bottom of invoices but the logo on the invoice and main title of the invoice can be their trading as name.

    When buying old companies it is a good idea to investigate their history. Old companies also tend to be more expensive. For what they want to do having “abc uk ltd” as the official name and “abc” as their trading name should work fine.



  40. Jay

    I have a 3 year old Ltd company called abc – end of last year I began trading as xyz. I’ve spent money on marketing, website etc…
    I’ve just found out after reading this thread, someone in the same profession but 100 miles away has registered my trading as name as their limited company name. They only did this a onth ago.
    I don’t mind this but is this thread saying I should stop trading under that name now ? Is that a legal requirement ?

  41. Al


    We have been trading as a partnership for almost three years now. We want to start a second business so are looking into setting up a limited company.
    We would like to register as ‘XYZ ltd.’ then trade under our existing name and a new one. Our new name is available but we have discovered that since we have been trading someone has registered our original name as a limited company and someone else has trademarked it, in some of our use classes!

    If we try and register a trading name under our new limited company with HMRC will this automatically trigger an email to either party causing us an untold amount of grief and expense? Or could we just hold our nerve and wait to see if anyone ever contacts us and challenges the use of our name?

    We like our name and logo, as do our customers, but would it be just more sensible to change to and protect a new name?
    Could either the name or trademark fall under the passing off rules?

    Thank you for any advise.

  42. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Without having the trading name registered as a company there is not a straightforward route for you to challenge the new company. However you do have a number of options.

    Depending on the business names involved I would look at challenging the new company’s name with Companies House. You can generally do this in the first 12 months after a new company has been registered. http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/gbhtml/gp1.shtml#ch8

    You could also try making an application to the Company Names Tribunal http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cna/cna-factsheet.htm

    You could consider challenging the new company for ‘Passing Off’ (but this is not always easy to prove). This will have to be done through the civil courts and it would be a good idea to seek professional legal advice.

    It may be that the new company are unaware of the conflict with your company name. In this case a letter laying out the position from your solicitor may resolve the situation quickly.

    It would also be worth checking to see if there is a trademark on the name.



  43. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    HMRC will not automatically contact the other parties however you will be opening yourself up to considerable legal risk, especially if they have the trademark. Trademark rules are much more powerful than passing off and they can easily bring a legal challenge against you (backed by trading standards if necessary). Depending on what their trademark covers they could challenge either your logo or name or both.

    If the trademark has been newly registered you may be able to raise an objection to it with the IPO – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/pro-types/pro-tm/pro-t-object.htm

    It may also be worth having a look at the Company Names Tribunal – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/cna/cna-factsheet.htm



  44. Abdul

    What are the legal requirements and procedures for adopting a trading as name? There is very little information out there regardibg this. Cn you simply decide to use a trading as name without having to notify an official body or are there official registers that you must notify?

    Every google search leads us to ltd company name formations. O information about this seems to be elusive

  45. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Basically a trading as name allows you to have a limited company called “ABC Industrial Holdings Ltd” but to trade as “Homemade Healthy Cupcakes”. It is simply a way to trade as something other than your official limited company name. Your limited company name will be officially registered at Companies House but your Trading As name will not be registered with anyone.

    However you should tell both HMRC and your bank that you are using a trading as name.

  46. Emma Billlington

    I am trying to set up a second daycare. I have the company name doggy daycare ltd but in the area i am trying to open there is already a doggie daycare. I am unaware if i can open calling myself doggy daycare but i also would not want people to get confused. Would i be able to open trading as daycare4dogs2 (even though the limited companies would be seperate) – my current daycare is called daycare4dogs.

    Thanks in advance

  47. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    If you opened up a your business and called yourself ‘doggy daycare’ when there is already an existing business with this name in your area you could be challenged in court for ‘passing off’.

    It would make more sense to use a different name, such as ‘daycare4dogs2′ as your trading name.

    So you would be ‘doggy daycare ltd’ trading as ‘daycare4dogs2′.


  48. Dave


    College friend of mine studied with has been providing a higher education for the same trading name in last 7 years. Yet operated under 3 different company names during this period. Now he wanted to get his Diploma for the course he finished in 2008 but they said can’t award him. As they explained cause it’s different legal entity.

    Funny thing is that this college directors & management are still same people, even the same website, email & tel no as 2008.

    As mentioned on this article as 3rd point, they have failed to demonstrate ABC trades as XYZ. Nowever else on their website. Whole thing seems very bogus. As they have same reputations in the past…not too mention it.

    Kindly advise what actions ought to be taken against this College. In a other word need some advise on this matter.

    Many Thanks.

  49. Mariem

    I am currently trading as Sarghini Enterprises Ltd but this name does not reflect my business type which is providing clinical compliance advice to pharmaceutical companies. I want to trade under a different name which is more reflective of the work I provide. How do I go about creating a trading as name? Do I need to create a new company at Companies House and inform the HMRC and Bank?

  50. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    You do not have to create a new company at Companies House. You can simply tell HMRC and your bank about your new trading name. However it may be a good idea to register a new company as this will mean the name is on the register which gives it some protection. It will stop anyone else from registering the name and will easily prove that you own it. You do not have to trade through the new company, you can simply register it and then keep it dormant.

    If you give us a call on 01245 492777 we can talk you through this process.


  51. mike

    If my business partner and I wanted to go our seperate ways, would it be ok for him to set up ‘ABC manufacturing’ trading as ‘ABC’ (current company) in order to keep the contracts held in ABC’s name until the end of the year. I’ve not got a problem with this as the current joint owner of ‘ABC’

  52. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    First of all I would recommend getting some proper advice from a commercial solicitor.

    Having said that the basic principle is that the contracts you currently have are with your current company (company A). If you set up a new company (company B) you would have to re-do all of your contracts. This would most likely involve getting all of your clients to agree to the new contracts and sign them.

    It could be easier to just get your business partner to buy you out of the existing company or to transfer your shares to him and resign as a director.

    If you would like to find out more about how to do this you can give us a call on 01245 492777

  53. Oliver Martin

    I wish to set up a company to publish a book by an anonymous author. Is it possible to keep the identity of the owners and office-holders of the company away from prying eyes? I should stress that I am not going to be doing anything illegal, nor do I plan on committing any tort such as libel, and I realise that the company needs to have an address, pay VAT, be available to HRMC, keep proper records, and be available to accept legal service in the extremely unlikely event that someone does actually wish to take legal action against it for some reason. I am happy with all of that. The only thing I would like to avoid is a position where any Tom Dick or Harry can find out who the owners and office-holders of the company are. Is there a way to avoid that? Oliver

  54. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    The short answer is not really.

    Limited companies are deliberately structured to be transparent. However there are a few things you can do.

    1) Use a registered office service to register the company. This is the main address that is made public for the company
    2) Use a directors service address – similar to the above this will stop your home address being made public
    3) You can use a nominee director – this is not a service we offer but you can nominate someone else to be the publicly listed director of the company.

    If you want to discuss these options in more detail give us a call on 01245 492777.


  55. Sean


    I want to set up a ltd company but I do different things and I’m getting fed up with all the paperwork, I am currently a plumber but I do car detailing and my wife has a shop. Someone has suggested a group company set up but I was wondering if I can just set up one ltd company and trade as the other companies I also buy the odd house and do it up so I wanted everything under one roof

  56. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Sean,
    You can run all of these business activities out of one limited company. You can, if you want, use different trading as names for the different business activities. Just remember to make your limited company name clear on any invoices, receipts etc.

    If you want to talk through this in more detail please feel free to give our consultants a call on 01245 492777.

  57. Samantha Chapman


    Can you tell me the difference between “trading as” and “a division” of? I.e is “Kitty Cupcakes a divison of Pet Food Ltd” the same, legally speaking, as “Pet Foos Ltd t/a Kitty Cupcakes”

    Thanks in advance

  58. Thomas

    Hi there.

    A little advice if I may.

    I am currently a director of a company with is in liquidation. There was no cash, assets etc to pay the creditors.

    The business was called, for example, X Ltd but traded as XYZ. The website was http://www.XYZ.co.uk and all branding etc was in the trading name. We opened a bank account in the X Ltd name and of course registered the same with companies house. We only ever received monies to that account and were only directors of the Ltd company.

    One creditor however is saying that we as Directors are personally liable for the money they are owed as we held ourselves out as Directors of XYZ (the unsigned agreement was in the name of XYZ). Unfortunately the email correspondence between one of the directors and the now-creditor did not detail the registered details of the Ltd Company (at first anyway, as soon after the email signature contained the Ltd Company No. We had the company’s reg number on compliments slips and the website at the time of the agreement but the creditor is saying that as he was only dealing with the director via email that he never had sight of the same; that the ‘agreement’ was in the name of XYZ and therefore if is us (personally) trading as XYZ that are personally liable.

    We may have made a mistake initially re detailing the fact that it was a trading name but never meant to mislead etc.

    Any advice as to the likelihood of me being personally liable will be gratefully appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  59. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    There are no hard and fast rules on this one but generally “Kitty Cupcakes a division of Pet Food Ltd” means that Kitty Cupcakes is a business in its own right (and a separate legal entity) but is owned by Pet Food Ltd.

    If it was “trading as” then there would be a single legal entity.

    Hope that helps.



  60. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    This is a situation where you are really going to need some proper advice from a commercial solicitor.

    Normally you would not be personally liable for deals done through the limited company but if that company was not referenced in the contract (if there was a contract) then you could potentially loose the protection a limited company would offer.

    However, I would get a solicitor to review this for you so that you know where you stand.


  61. John


    Let’s say I incorporate a service-oriented limited liability company to offer computer training under the following hypothetical name supposedly not yet registered: “Rokatonix Ltd”. Then I decide to trade under 3 different “trading as” (T/A) names according to target groups involved such as:

    Orpaxton – dedicated to children
    Bestromax – dedicated to adolescents
    Drospinex – dedicated to tertiary students

    Of course, they will be quoted correctly on websites and invoices, eg”Rokatonix Ltd T/A Orpaxton”, etc. My query is as follows:

    To the best of your knowledge, would common retail banks in the UK agree to open a bank account under Rokatonix Ltd (with suffix of bank account number ending 00) and then add up suffixes for each T/A name, such as:

    – a bank account number ending with suffix 01 for “Orpaxton”
    – a bank account number ending with suffix 02 for “Bestromax”
    – a bank account number ending with suffix 03 for “Drospinex”

    Such a setting would allow me to issue invoices on behalf of “Rokatonix Ltd T/A Name” bearing the logo of the particular “trading as” division. Of course, at the end of the day all payments will be banked on a unique bank account, ie the main account under Rokatonix Ltd. I am aware this type of bank account setting is allowed in some countries but am not sure if this may be achieved in the UK.

    Needless to say, it is pretty obvious I could have asked this question directly to any commercial bank around the corner but I have wanted to submit my query on this forum to share my views with the visitors of your website which is full of very interesting and useful information.

  62. Shane Grobler

    Hi, We currently have a CCJ against a company that obviously are using a trading name and have no idea how to find out what the actually company name is.. None of their paperwork displays this or anything on the premises. Even their credit card machine slips have the trading name and nothing else. We have been told no assets can be seized because they do not belong to the trading name. Is it illegal for them to be doing this and do you know who we can contact to find out the name of the holding company ?

  63. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Shane,
    If they are a limited company and they are not displaying their limited company name and number on business communications then they are breaking the law. Trading names do not have to be registered anywhere so it is relatively difficult to track down the name of the holding company if that is the only information you have. If they have a website you can often find more information on who owns the business by doing a who.is search on their domain name. Alternatively Googling their post code will normally bring up results showing if any companies are registered at their address.

    Hope that helps

    The Company Warehouse

  64. Mark

    Good morning,

    Can a sole trader trade as a Limited company? Can a Limited Company trade as another Limited company?

    Kind regards


  65. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Mark,
    You normally need to choose to either be a sole trader or a limited company. The only time people normally have both is if they want to protect their business name they will register a limited company but keep it dormant and trade as a sole trader.

    It is fairly common for one limited company to trade through another. So, for instance, if there was a chain of shops or restaurants each could be set-up as a limited company which is owned by the group limited company. The advantage of doing this is that if one shop or restaurant gets into financial trouble it will have less of an impact on the overall group.

    If you need any more help please give us a call on 01245 492777.


  66. Ian

    I am of the understanding that ABC Ltd can trade as XYZ (ABC Ltd t/a XYZ), but please can you clarify whether ABC Ltd can trade as XYZ Ltd?

    If ABC Ltd decide not to pay for their goods/services, and a supplier needs to pursue them through the courts, should the claim be made against XYZ Ltd?

    Finally, if it’s an offence to trade as a limited company using a different limited company name, please can you confirm which law(s) has/have been contravened?

    Thank you

  67. Steve

    I’m forming a Ltd company to provide consultancy services to a single employer

    The employer wants to include my own name in the contract as well as the Ltd company viz.

    My name t/a XYZ Ltd

    In my opinion the contracted party should be XYZ Ltd t/a My name because the first option arguably suggests that i have personal liability

    Am I correct or does it not matter?


  68. John Alies

    I am trading as John Allies Consultancy and am a sole trader. I would like to trade as Allies Consulting as well! What would I need to do to accomplish this?



  69. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi John,
    As a sole trader your business name is not officially recorded anywhere. You will always be ‘John Allies trading as John Allies Consultancy’ or ‘John Allies trading as Allies Consulting’. Therefore all you need to do before you start using a new name is check that no-one else is doing it. Do a few Google Searches, check Companies House and check with the IPO. This will give you a good idea whether anyone else is using the same name. (If they are they could launch a legal challenge against you).

    We can offer these kind of name searches as a service. If you would like more information on this you can give us a call on 01245 492777.


  70. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Steve,
    The more normal format is ‘your name t/ XYZ ltd’.

    I would suggest that you get a commercial solicitor to check the wording of the contract. You are correct in that part of the point of a limited company is to remove some personal liability so you don’t want to run the risk of making yourself liable with the way the contract is written.

    If you are just going to be contracting for one company also make sure you are aware of the IR35 rules http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ir35/


  71. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Ian,
    This really comes down to contract law and is not something we can give detailed advice on.

    However the general principle is that a contract (written or unwritten) will have been made at the point of order/purchase. Who is responsible for payment is likely to depend on who entered into the contract and who they claimed to be representing. Much of the law around these kind of contracts hinges on whether people were acting in good faith (so did they lie about which company they represented).

    As to what laws may or, or may not, have been broken you are going to need to get a commercial solicitor to take a look at your contracts.


  72. Nick


    I am a director of a small catering company called Strong Flavours Ltd – this is predominately an event catering company that do fine dining, weddings conferences etc… however we own a cafe called Use Your Loaf. We are now expanding Use Your Loaf and advertising it as a food delivery service for sandwiches, tea coffee that type of thing. We want to use the different name so the brand/company name Strong Flavours doesnt get associated with sandwiches and office food.

    Do i need to do anything i.e tell the bank HMRC – Ideally I also want to set up an additional invoice/billing system to that of Strong Flavours I am assuming if I did this you would recommend setting it up as a seperate ltd company?

    Any advise and comments would be really helpful.


  73. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Hi Nick,
    You can just tell HMRC and your bank that you will be trading under a new name. If you take this route you need to ensure that all your paperwork (receipts/invoices etc) and website and emails say Strong Flavours Ltd t/a Use Your Loaf at the bottom. So there will always be a direct link between the two brands for people to see.

    If you want to keep the two brands completely separate then you can open a new company. This has the advantage that it will separate the finances more clearly, so if one part of the business gets into debt the other part is not effected. It will also make separating the billing easier.

    If you would like to discuss the options further please give us a call on 01245 492777.


  74. Robert

    I have been contacted by someone claiming to have a company with the same name. After some research i found out his company is not registered with companies house. It’s a trading name he uses under another LTD company. How do i stand legally? Baring in mind he has my phone number and has called being abusive. I registered my company this year. He said he started trading this year. I can see lots of hassle coming my way.
    Thank you in advance.

  75. akhil

    hi am akhil
    i have a abc limited company ,. which offers gas services
    now i want to start one more service for websites development.
    consider i gave a name xyz to this second service of my company
    now what exactly do i need to do to use the same abc as company and xyz as a part of this company …please suggest

  76. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    The first thing to do would be to see if you can trademark your company name. This is the strongest form of protection for business names and will allow you to challenge anyone who tries to use it. If you have not already done so I would try to register the domain name for your business name and get the main variants (e.g. ,com, .co.uk).

    If the other business wants to challenge your right to use your company name they will normally need to launch a civil case against you for ‘passing off’. Essentially they will need to establish in court that you are trying to gain an advantage by leading people to believe you are part of their organisation or that people might believe the two businesses are the same. Normally factors which are considered in passing off cases are how similar the names are, if you are trading in the same geographical area and if you are in the same industry. They could also potentially challenge you through the Company Names Tribunal system. If you both started at about the same time it will be hard to prove that one of you has a historic claim to the name. As you have already registered the company name you are in a fairly strong position. However it is worth consulting a commercial solicitor and maybe getting them to write to the other business to explain your case.

  77. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    If you have 1 company (abc ltd) and also want to trade as xyz then you just need to tell your bank and HMRC what you are doing. You will also need to make sure that the website and any letters or invoices from xyz have ‘abc ltd t/a xyz’ on them.

  78. Melissa


    I am buying a business that is dormant according to the seller . It is dormant because it is only holding the lease of the premise I am interested. But they said that also have a trading company , through this company they pay rent and all financial things. IThe deal is to buy the lease holding business only , not the trading one and the owner agreed with this and they said that they will dissolve the trading so I don’t have I nothing to do with it. When I have the place.
    It is possible to buy a lease holding property business without the trading company (both have different. Names but finish with Ltd) ?
    What papers should I ask from the current owners to make Sure this happens?

    Thanks for your help in advance.


  79. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    Dear Melissa,
    This is something you should really be seeing a commercial solicitor about.

    However, in very general terms, it sounds like the people you are dealing with have two separate companies. If they really are completely separate then there would be no issue in buying one without the other. What you would need to check for is whether one company owns part of the other or has outstanding debts to the other company.

    A good place to start would be to do some searches on Companies House – http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/toolsToHelp/findCompanyInfo.shtml

    This will allow you to see if the lease holding company really is dormant, what was in their last set of accounts and who owns it.

    However we would definitely recommend that you get a solicitor to look over the deal before parting with any information.


  80. Kathy

    I have recently set up as a sole trader but want to use a name for my business (as opposed to just my own name). So rather than “Josephine Bloggs” I would want my business name to be “ABC123″ on my website and invoices etc. Would that have to be “Josephine Bloggs trading as ABC123″ or could it just be “ABC123″

    I am also a little confused about whether or not I would need to register this in some way, and if so, who would need to know?

    Any advice gratefully received! Many thanks in advance :)

  81. Bob

    I am the owner of a Ltd coy..lets call it ‘AlphaBrovo Ltd’. There is another person operating under sole trader calling himself Mr X trading as AlphaBrovo. He is in an area I wish to move to. He also owns AlphaBravo.co.uk and the rights to future domains such as ‘AlphaBravo.uk’ etc…

    What are my rights as the registered owner with Companies House and what can I obtain in terms of future web domains and/or require this individual to cease trading under ‘AlphaBravo’ ?

    Many thanks

  82. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    This depends on how long the other person has been trading for and how established they are.

    Owning the company name does not give you an automatic right to stop an existing business from using a trading name they have established. For instance I could register ‘Google Search Limited’ today but this would not give me the right to challenge Google’s use of the name.

    Most likely any attempt to stop the sole trader using his name would result in a court case for ‘passing off’. This can be a long and difficult process so you need to speak with an intellectual property lawyer to see what your chances would be before taking any action.

    However, assuming that the sole trader has been going longer than you, and is well established in the area you want to move into, they may well have a stronger case than you so I would think carefully before acting.


  83. Claire Mitchwll

    Hello, I registered my LTD company in 2011, and it’s been trading ever since.

    I recently found out that there’s another company in UK that’s “trading as” with the same name as my Limited company! And they have in fact been doing so for a while, certainly before my company was incorporated.

    This has proved dificult over time, as I started to try and build a web presence – because I cannot obtain the .co.uk website domain that I wanted, because they’re using it.

    I’m not clear why companies house allowed me to register the company name, if someone else was already “trading as”. Where do I stand legally on this? Can I force them to cease using the Trading name?

  84. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    There is no register or list of UK trading names so Companies House have nothing to check against when registering new company names. It is up to the person registering the company name to make sure that they are not infringing on another person’s trading name or intellectual property.

    Unless you have a trademark on the name you would need to establish in court that they were trading as your company name with the intention of fooling people into thinking they are dealing with your company (passing off). Given what you have said about the other company trading longer than you and already having the relevant domain names it would be incredibly difficult for you to stop them using your company name.

    You should consider changing your company name and re-branding your business before you invest too much money into it.



  85. Sinead

    Hi, I have a query whereby a company registered in the UK “ABC Limited” is going to trade under the name of “XYZ”.

    ABC Limited has a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with an Irish registered company “XZY Limited” and it is the name of “XYZ Limited” that “ABC Limited” will be operating under a business name in the UK (exclusive of the word ‘Limited’).

    The terms of the MOU provides that executives of “XYZ Limited” can sign letters and agreements on behalf of “ABC Limited”.

    Therefore, my query arises as to how an executive (CEO) of “XYZ Limited” should sign off letters and agreements for “ABC Limited”, as they are signing on the basis of the MOU by virtue of their office? I want to ensure that members of the public are not mislead to thinking that the executives of “XZY Limited” are also executives of “ABC Limited”.

    Thanking you for any help which you may be able to offer.

    Kind regards,

  86. John

    Hi Sinead,

    Thanks for your enquiry.

    The general principle is that on any official documentation the name of the registered company must appear in addition to the trading name of the company including the registration number and the registered address. For example, on emails, letters, faxes, contracts etc it should state ABC Limited T/A XYZ Limited and the official registration number and address.

    However, we can’t give you specific legal advice on the contract between the two parties because it would be inherent to the terms agreed under the MOU. For this reason, we advise you to consult with a commercial solicitor on this matter.

    Kind regards


  87. jason

    Hi there. I have been running a trading Ltd company for some time now. Due to greater business relations I wish to expand and venture off into more business activities, some of which are communications services and some of which are simply e-commerce trading. I do have intentions of eventually branding these products but these businesses I wish to not use the same name as my Ltd company name. Is that still ok for me to achieve these business expansion ideas. If so then what are the legal steps involved. I don’t wish to step out on the wrong path if the signs are all easily posted. Thank you heaps and look forward to reading your reply.

  88. David Harrison

    Hi there, after some advice please.

    A friend/colleague and I are starting a new business, but due to time constraints with the regulatory body, we need to sort something out very quickly.

    We do intend incorporating a limited company, but for the meantime, are we OK/legal to simply submit our paperwork as “David and Winston t/as AN Other Company” (for example)?? Do I need to inform anyone of our desire to “trade as” (providing the chosen name is OK of course)? Does Companies House or HMRC have any vested interest in this?!

    Many many thanks in advance.

  89. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    You can only trade as ‘AN Other Company’ if that company has been formed with Companies House and you have the approval of that company. I’m not sure of your exact situation but this also shouldn’t be done as a means of circumventing regulatory bodies.

    I’m not sure what the problem is with the regulatory body but forming a limited company only takes around 3 to 5 hours and we can do it for free so you can get up and running quickly and cheaply. Trading as names are normally used for marketing purposes so I am not sure what you are trying to achieve by using a trading as name rather than forming a limited company.

    If you do plan on using a trading as name then you need to tell HMRC and your bank.



  90. Peter @ The Company Warehouse

    This is the perfect use for trading as names. So you put all of the money through your existing company but brand the businesses differently. So if your existing company is Jason Ltd. your new businesses would be:

    Jason Ltd t/a Business 1
    Jason Ltd t/a Business 2
    Jason Ltd t/a Business 3

    You can then have the domain name and headline branding on the website of each business as Business 1 or Business 2 etc. You just need to make sure that you always have the full Jason Ltd t/a Business 1 visible in the site footer and showing on any invoices and receipts.

    You should also inform HMRC and your bank about your new trading names.

    Hope that helps.



  91. Omar

    I’ve already set up a company.

    How do I go about registering 2 different trading names?


  92. John

    Hi Omar,

    You don’t need to formally register trading as names like you do company names, but they do need to comply with the rules around sensitive words and expressions set out in the Company and Business Names Regulations. You should notify HMRC and your bank about the two names that you wish to trade under.

    I hope that helps.

    Kind regards


  93. Mr V Chat

    Hi, recently I used a CopyCat web site. The web site had a non-existent business name in the contacts section. It also added ( Limited ) to the end of the non-existent company name. In addition to this, it was using a Mail Forwarding Service in the USA. The company did not answer the telephone. The web site was pretending to be a business located in the USA

    Through my bank we traced the money trail to a United Kingdom Limited company here in the United Kingdom.

    Is it legal for someone to go to all the trouble to set up a non-existent business and address in the USA when their service is solely targeted to the UK market ?

    It seems strange considering they are a UK based company. Why go to all the trouble of pretending they are an American company and setting up a Mail Forwarding Service !!!!!!

  94. Matt

    Can a trading as company invoice it’s registered company?
    The company I work for recently set up a Recruitment agency to find ad-hoc workers to work within the various business units of the registered company. The agency has been set up as a trading name of the registered co.
    The recruitment agency would want to invoice the registered company for services provided, with a small margin on the cost of the employees.


  95. Peter

    Hi Matt,
    The ‘trading as’ company is the registered company. They are the same legal entity. So in the example you gave above the company would be invoicing itself for services it has provided to itself. As a result putting a margin in would be fairly dodgy from an accounting point of view.

    If you want the two companies to act independently then they need to be set up as separate limited companies. If you need a hand doing this just give is a call on 01245 492777 and we can talk you through the options.



  96. Zyanya


    Wondering if you can give me advice. I have recieved a letter from another company who are stating I am using a similar names as theirs. I use the business name Sharon’s flower lodge and the other company are using flower lodge. We are both based in the same geographical area and have the same trade. The other firm are registered as a trade mark under the name ‘Flower lodge’, where do I stand with this? is it a case that I will have to change my name or will I be able to continue trading?


  97. Carmel

    If a ABC Ltd T/A XYZ. I understand form the above, that they are both one and the same legal entity.

    If only HMRC could talk like you!

    What if XYZ would benefit from a different VAT basis to ABC? Can they not register separately? Would ‘unlinking’ the two businesses be the only way to achieve this?

    Many thanks,

  98. Peter

    Hi Carmel,
    If you want two parts of the business to operate under different VAT regimes then you will normally need to register them as two separate businesses rather than using a trading as name. So, yes, you would need to unlink them.



  99. Peter

    Unfortunately, if the other company has a trademark then you are probably going to have to change your trading name. Trademarks supersede pretty much all other claims to a business name.



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