Company names that can't be reserved

Names that aren't acceptable under the Companies Act 1993

Before you reserve a name for your company, you need to check that it isn't identical or almost identical to another company's name, and doesn't breach any laws. If we reject your proposed name, you need to reserve another name and pay the fee again. 

If your name is similar to other company

Before reserving a name on the Companies Register check that it isn't identical or almost identical to another registered company name. For example, it could be rejected if 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.

If your company 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 ignore the case of letters, accents, spaces between letters and punctuation marks. We also disregard some abbreviations used in a name, including:

  • '&' 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, (2017)
  • a number — for example, No. 1, or
  • a place — for example, (Nelson).

For example, 'Clothing Company Limited' and 'Clothing Company (2015) Limited' are not almost identical.

Names that breach New Zealand law

Under various 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, 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 'How to reserve a company name' guides:

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