Register a Business Name
Registering a business name
Congratulations is in order! You are well on your entrepreneurial journey. Which is by no means easy. One of the first steps to formalising your business is to register a business name. This is key to establishing your brand identity, showing professionalism and also a legal requirement (if you are using a name other than your own personal name).
Why is it important to register a business name?
Your business name is your brand. If you are not a registered limited company then you will most likely be operating as a sole trader or partnership. Using your own personal name in most cases is unfavourable and lacks professionalism. The exception to this is if your personal brand has a lot of brand equity i.e. Richard Branson. By using a business name for trading you may gain more traction for your business and marketing activities. For example, operating as “Dublin Web Design” as opposed to Joe Bloggs. Or “Cork Gas Boiler Services” instead of Jane Doe. A strong brand shows professionalism. If your business is active online i.e. website / social media, then you should use your business name for your domain name and online channels. In Ireland .ie domain names are very reputable.
Also, if your business is applying for finance or a business bank account you should have your business name registered.
Above all, It is also a legal obligation. If you wish to present yourself, or trade under another name, then you need to register with the CRO (Companies Registration Office). You can read all the information here. In summary –
“Registration of a business name is obligatory if any individual or partnership (whether composed of individuals or bodies corporate or any combination of both) or any body corporate carries on business under a name other than their own true names. Its purpose is to make public the identities of those individual(s), partnerships or corporate bodies being the legal entity behind the business name.”
- an individual uses a business name which differs in any way from his/her true surname. It makes no difference whether the individuals first name or initials are added. So registration is required if, for example, Mr. John Murphy traded as Murphy Builders but not if he traded as Murphy or John Murphy);
- a firm uses a business name which differs in any way from the true names of all partners who are individuals and the corporate names of all partners which are bodies corporate;
- a company uses a business name which differs in any way from its full corporate name;
- a person having a place of business in the State carries on the business of publishing a newspaper.
Registering a business name is not the same as a trademark
Who can register?
Sole Traders, partnerships and limited companies can register a business name. For limited companies, you can register multiple business names as needed. It is not uncommon to find a company with a business name different to their registered company name. For example, SME Accounting is the trading name of SME Online Accounting Professionals Limited. Limited companies often have multiple names for different brands or business units.
How long does it take?
The process takes about 3 weeks for your certificate to issue. Certificates are issued by email and are digitally signed documents. You do not get a hard copy.
There are a number of issues that can arise when registering a business name. For example, the following words are not allowed to be used – “limited”, “ltd”, “teoranta”, “teo”, “incorporated”, “inc.” or “company”. The CRO may also query your application if you are using a residential address for unusual activities i.e. retail, manufacturing etc.
It is important to also note that registering a business name is not the same as a trademark. If your business name infringes on another person/companies trademark then you may face legal action. So it is worth investigating potential conflicts before you print off those business cards.
How to do it
Registering a business name can be done through the CRO or SMEaccounting.ie can take care of that for you. We will register your business name for free if you are a client of our company formation, bookkeeping and accountancy services. If you just want the registration alone then we charge €49 (ex VAT). As always, we recommend that you focus on your business and leave the paperwork to us.