Business Doctor: What’s in the change of a name?

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DS writes: I am changing my company’s name but also wish to retain the previous one as a trading name. How do I go about registering this with HM Revenue & Customs and does it matter if I receive invoices in the old name?

When you change the name of a legal entity, you must advise the relevant departments at HMRC of the new name that is registered at Companies House,writes Jon Dawson, partner at Kingston Smith LLP.

You must notify HMRC in respect of PAYE for your payroll, corporation tax, VAT and, if relevant, the Construction Industry Scheme.

The easiest way to advise of the name change is through the HMRC website if you have an online account. You will need enabled access to each tax in your online account. Alternatively, you can contact HMRC by phone or in writing — though you must advise each department separately. For VAT, you can also register a trading name through the same method.

One of the main challenges you may find is making sure your suppliers issue invoices to you correctly — this could affect the VAT you can reclaim.

A business can reclaim VAT only if an invoice is addressed to the company name or a trading name that has been registered with HMRC. It is, therefore, good practice to always register the previous name as a trading name to avoid any issues when claiming VAT deductions.

For your own invoicing, you should make sure you update your sales invoice templates to include the new company name and trading name. But all other details, including VAT number and company number, should remain the same, along with your bank details.

A further practical consideration concerns your bank, which will ask to see the change of name certificate issued by Companies House in order to change the account details.

Any of your customers which pay by cheque will also need to be told of the change.