New regulations, which came into force on 31 January 2015, have simplified the rules regulating the words that companies may use in their registered and trading names.

Under the new regulations over 20 fewer words and expressions are designated "sensitive", meaning that their use no longer requires the approval of the Secretary of State. Those removed include: European, group, holding, international, national and United Kingdom.

Fewer words are also now disregarded when deciding whether one name is the "same as" another on the register at Companies House. Those removed include: exports, group, holdings, imports, international and services. So, for example, XYZ Limited and XYZ Services Limited are no longer regarded as the same name, whereas previously they would have been. There have also been updates to the list of permitted characters, signs, symbols and punctuation that companies may use in their names.

The rules on a company displaying its registered name at locations shared by six or more companies have also been relaxed. Previously each company had to display its registered name for at least 15 continuous seconds at least once every three minutes. Now, an alternative is for the company's registered name to be on a register available for inspection on demand at that location. Where five or fewer companies use the same location there is no change; each company must continue to ensure that its name is displayed continuously.

All these changes also apply to limited liability partnerships.

The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015