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Business names

A business name is simply a name or title under which a person, a company or a partnership trades. It not only identifies you to your customers, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and enables your customers to make an emotional connection to your business and brand. For many businesses, the name is often its most valuable asset.

Choosing a business name

If you are setting up a company or business for the first time, or changing the name of an existing company or business, making sure your proposed name is available and acceptable for registration could save you time and money.

Try to ensure the name you apply for is unique, distinctive and not too similar to that of another company or business, especially one in a similar line of business.

Check name availability

Names which are likely to be refused

  • are identical to a company or business name already registered in the Isle of Man;
  • are descriptive of a business activity but not distinctive;
  • are identical to a company known to exist elsewhere;
  • are grandiose and imply the company is in some way pre-eminent in its field (unless this is the case);
  • are not conducive to the good name of the Isle of Man;
  • are similar enough to an existing company or business name already registered in the Isle of Man, or known to be registered elsewhere, to cause confusion in the minds of those who might deal with the other business;
  • contain restricted words and phrases such as 'Bank' or 'Building Society';
  • contain words which imply royal patronage or connection, e.g. 'Royal', 'Royalty', 'King', 'Queen', 'Prince', 'Princess', 'Windsor';
  • do not contain an approved suffix, where one is required;
  • imply the company will be undertaking a regulated activity, without holding the appropriate licence;
  • were used by a company that has been struck off or dissolved in the preceding 5 years;
  • would indicate that the company may be engaging in illegal activities;
  • are registered for the main purpose of obtaining money (or other consideration) from a person who has goodwill in the same or sufficiently similar name elsewhere;
  • imply a relationship or association with a government department or statutory board.

See also - Company and Business Names (Restricted Words and Phrases) Regulations 2013

Trade marks 

The Companies Registry does not consult any Trade Mark Index or other Trade Mark Register. Approval of a name is not an indication that no trade mark rights exist over it.

There is no Trade Mark Index in the Isle of Man, but Isle of Man Trade Marks are included in the UK Trade Mark Index

Registration

Registration is required if:

  • a person uses a name that is in any way different from their own true name (true name means the surname only or the surname with the addition of his forenames or their initials) or
  • a firm (partnership) uses a name that is in any way different from the true names of all the partners, or
  • a company uses a name that is in any way different from its full corporate name or
  • a person acts as agent on behalf of another person or company.

See - Registration forms

Registration is not required when business is carried on by a trustee in bankruptcy or by a receiver or manager appointed by a court. Before registering, you should also check that your proposed name doesn't already have a trade mark registered against it.

Changes to registration details

If any details relating to the business name change, you must notify the Companies Registry on the appropriate form within 14 days of the change.

This includes changes in the name or address of the business itself or in the names or addresses of the owners of the business name. There is no fee payable if you inform us of the change within 14 days but a penalty is payable if you notify us after that time.

See - Business names forms

Annual declaration

Every business that has registered a business name is required to file an annual declaration in the Companies Registry confirming they continue to trade and that there have been no changes to the particulars required to be delivered to the department.

The declaration should be filed each year on the anniversary of the name being registered. There is no registration fee.

See - Annual declaration, form BNSD

Cessation of trading

If a business name ceases trading, the Companies Registry should be notified within 3 months by submitting Form RBN 14, which needs to be signed by either the sole proprietor, or on behalf of the sole limited company or by all the partners if it is registered as a partnership. There is no fee payable.

See - Form BN14

Fees, forms and practice notes

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