Most private limited company names need to end with ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’, but can you interchange them? Generally, yes you can. However, there are some key rules and considerations to be mindful of, which we’ll explore in this article.
What is ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’?
First, let’s establish what ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ actually mean. They are the suffixes in your company name that define your company’s status. By ending your company name with ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’, you are indicating that it is a private limited company – its own legal entity, with shareholders having limited liability if the business experiences financial difficulties.
The requirement to use the ‘Limited’/’Ltd’ suffix applies to almost all private companies in accordance with section 59 of the Companies Act 2006. Only certain private companies that meet particular exemptions are not required to use this suffix.
The difference between ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’
So, how are these terms different? Generally speaking, there is no difference between ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ – ‘Ltd’ is simply an abbreviation. They are different ways of presenting the same thing.
Which one you choose mostly depends on how you want your company name to be presented. For instance, some people opt for ‘Limited’ to maintain a formal look, whilst others might prefer the simplicity and style of ‘Ltd’.
When choosing your company name, you may choose whichever of these two suffixes you prefer, but you need to select one to incorporate your company under, as it is a legal requirement.
Note that once you have chosen the preferred suffix, it will appear on all official documents, such as your company’s Certificate of Incorporation, and on the Companies House public register.
Are ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ interchangeable?
Broadly speaking, you can interchange ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’. You are probably not going to run into trouble if you switch the two around, but for the sake of staying fully compliant and making sure no issues arise, we suggest sticking to how the company was registered.
The main scenario in which you shouldn’t interchange ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ is when filing documents to Companies House. Here, you must use your registered company name – including the correct suffix – exactly as it appears on your Certificate of Incorporation. Otherwise, your filing will be rejected.
Another instance where these suffixes are not interchangeable is when displaying your company name in certain places. You are legally obligated to show your exact registered company name including ‘Limited’/’Ltd’ on the following:
- Physical signs (e.g. shops or commercial offices)
- The company’s registered office address, or any other address the business operates from (unless it is your home)
- Stationery (e.g. business letters or websites)
- Promotional material
The rules setting out the disclosure of company names can be found in part 6 of The Company, Limited Liability Partnerships and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015.
Overall, ‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ are mostly interchangeable, unless you are contacting Companies House or displaying your company name in the above places.
When it comes to company names and their suffixes, there are some other considerations to bear in mind.
Changing your suffix
If, for whatever reason, you are unhappy with the suffix in your company name, you can simply change it from ‘Limited’ to ‘Ltd’ and vice versa. Companies are permitted to change their name at any time by special resolution of the members, or by any other means provided for in their articles of association.
To pass a special resolution and change your company name, you’ll need a minimum of a 75% majority vote from the members. This resolution can be passed either by a written resolution or at a general meeting.
You can find more information on making changes to your private limited company on the gov.uk website.
Limited name exemptions
A private company may be exempt from using ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ in its name for some of the following reasons:
- It is a company limited by guarantee
- Its articles of association include the following provisions:
- An objects clause which states that the purpose of the company is to promote commerce, art, science, education, religions, charity, or any profession;
- A provision that says all of the company’s profits are to be applied for the promotion of its objects;
- A provision preventing any dividends from being paid to its members; and
- A provision that, in the event of a wind-up, all assets in the company’s name are to be transferred to a body with similar objects itself, or another body with charitable objects.
Some companies trade under a different name to their registered name. This may be for general trading purposes, such as marketing, or to differentiate between multiple divisions of the same company.
Should you operate under a trading name, it must not include any of the following suffixes:
- Limited Liability Partnership
- Public Limited Company
- Any Welsh equivalent to the above words
Other rules that concern trading names are that they must not copy or be similar to an existing business name or trade mark, or contain any offensive or sensitive words. You can find more details on choosing a trading name on the Companies House website.
‘Limited’ and ‘Ltd’ are largely the same thing – ‘Ltd’ is simply the short version of ‘Limited’. They both refer to the status of a private limited company and they can, generally, be interchanged, unless you are contacting Companies House, or displaying your company name in certain business locations.
However, for compliance purposes, it is best to stick to your company name as it has been registered, so you don’t run into any unintended problems. If you change your mind about the suffix after incorporation, it can always be changed.
We hope this quick guide has helped you understand how limited company suffixes are used. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below or get in touch with our team.