Before you reserve a name on the Companies Register, you must check that it isn't the same or similar to another company's name, and doesn't breach any laws. If we reject your proposed name, you need to choose another and pay the fee again.
Names that are too similar
Under the Companies Act 1993, a name can't be reserved if it is 'identical or almost identical' to that of another registered company. This includes names where the only difference is:
- 'Limited', 'Tapui' or 'Unlimited' at the end of a name
- the letter 's' added to the end of a word to make it plural.
When a name is 'almost identical'
It's difficult to define when a name is 'almost identical', but when you reserve a name, we consider the entire name and the order of the words.
We disregard the case of letters (lower case or capitals), accents, spaces between letters, punctuation marks and certain abbreviations.
- '&' for and
- 'no' for number
- 'co' or 'coy' for company
- 'N.Z.' or 'NZ' for New Zealand
- 'Bros' for brothers.
To distinguish one name from another, it may be enough to include:
- a year — for example, (2021)
- a number — for example, No. 1, or
- a place — for example, (Nelson).
For example, 'Clothing Company Limited' and 'Clothing Company (2020) Limited' are not 'almost identical'.
Other conditions when naming a company
Under various other laws, your company can't have a name that:
- is offensive, obscene, contrary to public policy or likely to cause offence to any particular religious group or section of the community
- uses words restricted or protected by laws, such as the Flag, Emblems and Name Protection Act 1981 , including 'ANZAC' or 'Red Cross'
- includes symbols and numbers, unless they're used in an acceptable context or act as a year or numerical marker — for example $2 Shop Limited, XYZ No. 1 Limited, XYZ (2002) Limited or XYZ (2009) Limited
- uses macrons, unless they're used within a Māori name or place consistent with the New Zealand Geographic Board protocols .
Under the Fair Trading Act 1986, misleading and deceptive conduct is not acceptable. This could include carrying on business under a name that is misleading or deceptive. In this case, it's the Court, not the Registrar of Companies that decides whether a name is misleading or deceptive.
More 'Changing the name of a company' guides:
- Check our list of names you may need permission to use because they're protected by legislation.
- Transfer your reservation of a company name to another person or organisation.