The rules relating to company names

What's required under New Zealand law

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:

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:

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