Choosing your Irish Company Name
Company names cannot be reserved or pre approved in Ireland and a name will be refused if:
- It is identical to or too similar to a name already appearing on the register of companies
- It is offensive
- It would suggest state sponsorship
The CRO does not check proposed names against names on the business names register or the trade marks register.
Restrictions and guidelines governing the registration of company names
The following guidelines are to assist in assessing the acceptability or otherwise of company names:
It is generally recommended that company names include extra words so as to create a sufficient distinction between names. This will increase the possibility of the proposed name being accepted for registration. Certain words and their abbreviations together with accents and punctuation marks are not sufficient to distinguish between company names. Examples of such words include the definite article and the words “company”, “co.”, “corporation”, “and”, “&”, “service”, “services”, “limited”, etc. Place names are not considered distinguishing e.g. Ireland, Dublin, West, etc. or words such as Global or International.
Similar descriptive elements e.g. press/printing, staff agency/employment agency, or the inclusion in one name of only a general or weak qualification such as “holding”, “group”, “system”, “services”, “international”, etc. may not be regarded as a sufficient distinction between company names. If a name includes words which imply specific functions e.g. “holding company”, “group” etc., further information may be required by the CRO to support the application.
Particular care should be taken with names considered to contain a distinctive element i.e. names consisting primarily of made up words or non dictionary words. The inclusion of qualifying words may not be sufficient to create a distinction between company names.
Names which are phonetically or visually similar will be refused. These includes names where there are a slight variation in the spelling and the variation does not make a significant difference between the names e.g. night watch/nite watch.
A number on its own will not be accepted as a sufficient distinguishing mark unless the companies concerned are part of the same group.
Names containing certain words cannot be used unless approved by relevant bodies.
For example, the words “bank”, “banker”, “banking”, “banc”, may only be used with the permission of the Central Bank of Ireland. This also applies to names such as “hollybank”, “sweetbank”, “canal bank”, “bancorp”, and the surname “Banks” not withstanding the fact that the company may not intend to carry on banking business.
Words such as “insurance”, “re-insurance” and “assurance” cannot be used, unless prior permission has been sought from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (Insurance Financial Supervision Section) and granted by that Department.
Words such as “society”, “co-op” or “co-operative” cannot be used unless prior permission has been sought from the Registrar of Friendly Societies.
When using either group, holdings or international in your company name, most countries, including Ireland, expect the user to give evidence to justify the use of that name.
You will need to provide evidence of association with two or more limited companies.
If the name clearly shows that the company is to promote the interests of a group of individuals, then the name will normally be approved.
You will need to provide evidence of holding 50% of the share capital of another company.
If you wish to use this word as a prefix, you need to show that the major part of the company’s activities is in trading outside the country of incorporation.
If you wish to use it as a suffix, approval will usually be given if you can show that its main activities are exports, or that it operates in more than one country overseas.
Approval is usually given to companies wishing to use this word when the company is involved in a trade that is international in character, such as travel or transport, provided that the name is not too misleading or likely to give rise to a justified complaint.