Company is a legal entity formed by a person or association of persons for lawful business activities registered under the Companies Ordinance, 1984 (the ‘Ordinance’). The first step towards incorporation of a company is to seek the “availability of name” for the proposed company from the concerned registrar of companies. Although, it sounds simple enough, but there are certain prohibitions and restrictions, the applicant has to look into while choosing a name for a company. In this regard, it must be ensured that the name chosen for the proposed company is neither inappropriate, deceptive or designed to exploit or offend the religious susceptibilities of the people, nor identical or closely resembling with the name of an existing company.
This guide is intended for those persons who are desirous of forming a company and to help them in understanding the process of choosing an appropriate name for their company in order to save time and efforts for registering a company in Pakistan.
How to Select Company Name (SECP Company Name Selection)
Guidelines for selection of a name Section 37 of the Ordinance provides that:
- The proposed name should not be inappropriate, deceptive, or designed to exploit or offend the religious susceptibilities of the people
- The proposed company name shall not be identical or have close resemblance. It must be distinguishable from the names of existing companies, and any name that has already been reserved by the Registrar for registration of a company.
Following guideline must be kept in mind to avoid applying for identical names:
- A name is not distinguishable by differences in punctuation or capital words, or the presence or absence of articles, conjunctions or prepositions as symbols or words (including “the,” “THE”, “a,” “A”, “and,” “of,” “in”, “at”, “Al”, “New”, “Modern”).
- A word in the plural form will be regarded as being identical to a word in the singular form and vice versa. For example ‘industry’ and ‘industries’ would be regarded as being identical
- Also, names which have close phonic resemblance with the name of existing companies are not distinguishable.
It is in the interest of promoters of a company to ensure that the name selected for their company should portray true inculcate of their business and have difference with any other name on the register. This will reduce the risk of confusion and the following potential difficulties like:
- Objections to the company name.
- Confusion with other companies with a poor trading record.
- Litigation in civil law.
It is pertinent to mention here that the application for availability of name will be considered only if the spelling of proposed name is according to dictionary. Any deviation in dictionary spellings will not be accepted and the name will be rejected. e.g., Imerica for America, carachi for Karachi, etc.
Company Names that Require Approval from SECP
There are certain words and expressions which if used in a company name may imply business pre-eminence, a particular status or specific function. These words are generally allowed on producing sufficient justification by the promoters so as to ensure that public may not mislead with the name. These include names which contain any words suggesting or calculated to suggest:
- Patronage of any past or present Pakistani or Foreign Head of State.
- Any connection with the Federal Government or Provincial Government or any department or authority of any such Government.
- Any connection with any corporation setup by or under any Federal or Provincial law
- Patronage of or any connection with any Foreign Government or any International organization.
Guideline on prohibitions of certain types of words in a company name, are given below:
Association: This word may be included in the name of companies to be established on grant of license by the Commission under section 42 of Ordinance or which are established as a Trade Organization under Trade Organizations Ordinance, 2007.
Benevolent/ Foundation: These words may be included in the name of companies to be established on grant of license by the Commission under section 42 of Ordinance.
Society: This word may be included in the name of companies if proper justification is provided.
Fund: This word may be allowed in the name of company if the company will function as Non-Banking Financial Company under the license of Specialized Companies Division of the Commission or to public sector company on grant of license by the Commission under section 42 of the Ordinance.
Council: This word may be included in the name of companies to be established on grant of license by the Commission under section 42 of Ordinance. Moreover, this expression is also allowed to Sports Association and Professional Bodies.
Chamber of Commerce: This word may be included in the name of entities which are being formed as Trade Bodies under license under Trade Organization Ordinance, 2007, from Director General Trade Organization, Ministry of Commerce Government of Pakistan.
Authority/ Register/ Registered/ Co-operative/ Bureau/ Division: These words are not allowed
Trust: This word may be included in the name of REITs to be established on grant of license by the Specialized Companies Division of the Commission.
Assurance/ Assurer/ Insurance/ Insurer/ Re-Assurance/ Re-Assurer/ Re-Insurance/ Re-Insurer: These words may be included in the name of companies involved in Insurance, Assurance, Re-insurance and Reassurance business. Prior permission of Insurance Division of the Commission would be required at the time of Incorporation.
Board: This word may be included in the name of companies desirous to engage in the business of Paper &/or Board or to public sector companies.
Bahria/ Askari/ Fouji/ Fazaiya/ Cadet: This word may be included in the name of companies to be established by the relevant agency.
Banks/Banking Company: These words may be included in the name of companies on the basis of permission from State Bank of Pakistan under section 8 of the Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962 and section 5(1) of Microfinance Institutions Ordinance, 2001.
Charter/Chartered: These words may be included in the name of companies having charter from the sovereign authority of the Federation and the Province
Exchange/Bourse: These words are only allowed in the name of Stock Exchange, Commodity Exchange and Exchange Companies subject to NOC from relevant authority.
Familiar Trade Names: These words may be included in the name of companies only if NOC of familiar trade name user is provided or proper documentary evidence of ownership/use of trade name is furnished by the applicant
Famous/ Distinct Personalities: These words may be included in the name of companies if proper justification and approval of relevant authority is provided.
Federation: This word may be included in the name of Sports Federations licensed under section 42 of Ordinance or trade bodies under Trade Organizations Ordinance, 2007.
Federal: This word is allowed in the name of company with the approval of the Commission, if the proposed company has a connection or any patronage with Federal Government.
Group: This word may be included in the name of companies if use of this word implies several companies under single corporate ownership and applicants have to provide evidence of subsidiary/associate relationship with two or more other Pakistani Companies.
Holding: This word may be included in the name of company which establishes that it qualifies to be a holding company as defined in Section 3 of the Ordinance i.e. the company has object clause showing its intention to act as holding company after incorporation.
Institution: This word may be included in the name of the public sector companies
Investment: This word may be included in the name of Non-Banking Finance Companies, REITs and brokerage houses or any public sector financial institution or investment company.
Investment Finance, Investment Advisory, Leasing, Asset Management, Housing Finance: This word may be included in the name of Non-Banking Finance Companies.
Name of Company containing country name or nationality other than Pakistan: These names are not allowed unless sufficient justification is provided.
Name of Company containing name of two countries i.e. Pakistan/Pak and any other foreign company: These words may be included in the name of companies where documentary evidence is provided in support of the fact that the company is a Joint Venture of two Governments or companies of two countries.
New/Modern/The/Al: These words may be included in the name of companies. However, these expressions will not be acceptable if used to make proposed company as distinctive from already existing companies.
State: This word may be included in the name of companies formed by the Federal Government
University: This word may be allowed only in the name of University Management Company for the management of University in terms of guidelines of Higher Education Commission.
UNO, World BANK, IMF, Red Cross, Red Crescent: These words are not allowed
Procedure to Search Name Availability (SECP Website)
Any person can check the availability of a proposed company name i.e., whether the company name is available for registration or otherwise by simply searching the desired name through the facility, before actually applying for a company name. It may be noted that a company name search for checking the availability of a proposed company name on the website does not necessarily mean that the proposed name is available for registration.
Registrar examines and dispose off each request in accordance with law and may reject such a proposed name, if found in violation of Section 37 of the Ordinance.
SECP Company Name Confirmation Process
There are two methods for the submission of application for seeking confirmation of availability of name:
Company Name Registration (Online)
eServices by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (the Commission) has enabled the promoters of a company to seek company name availability online, using the eServices Portal, without visiting the Company Registration Office (CRO). Application fee for the availability of name through online is Rs. 200/- only, cheaper than through offline, which is Rs.500/-.
For this purpose, an applicant has to follow certain steps in order to reserve a desired name for the proposed company. The steps are;
Log on to eServices:
- The client will connect to, https://eservices.secp.gov.pk/eServices, for signup.
- Click on sign up button to open the Form.
- Fill in the required information and click on sign up button to submit the Form.
- User will receive an e-mail containing the user activation link.
- By clicking on the link, user account will be activated.
Filling Out Information
- A successful logon to eServices by entering user ID and password, and clicking login button, will make available Company Name Reservation process.
- User will click on the Company Name Reservation process.
- An input page is displayed, wherein the information will be entered by the user.
- After clicking the ‘Continue’ button, the process document listing page is displayed, containing the following links
Update Form(s) Data: Click link if you want to update the data.
View Company Name Reservation Form: Click link and view the automatically filled eForm based on your input.
Fill New Attachment Form:
- Click link and an attachment form window will be displayed.
- Attach document, if any, and click Save Form Button.
Please note that only PDF files are allowed for attachment. Process document listing page will be displayed.
Fill New Bank Challan Form:
- Click link and auto filled bank challan will be displayed.
- Click Print Form Button. Four copies will automatically be printed as original copy, bank copy, SECP copy and depositor copy.
- After printing, Click Save Form Button.
The fee shall be deposited in the Bank branch selected by the applicant from the designated branches of MCB Bank Limited. The bank shall retain the SECP and bank copies and return remaining two copies (original and depositor copy) to the depositor.
Submit the process:
- After saving the Bank Challan, Process document listing page will be displayed.
- Click on Start Process link.
- All the documents will be automatically submitted to the SECP.
The process of the SECP will be initiated as soon as the SECP receives the verification of deposit of fee from the Bank.
Manual Application for Company Name Registration
For this purpose, application can be made on a plain paper addressed to the registrar concerned. A specimen of application for seeking availability of name can be download from the SECP form & applications data bank.
The application fee for the availability of name is Rs. 500/- for each proposed name. The fee can be paid in the designated branches of MCB Bank Limited through Challan Form which is available “Free of Cost” at the “Facilitation Counters” of the CROs and branches of MCB Bank Limited.
Company name Refusal Application to SECP
If application for the availability of a proposed company name is refused by the concerned registrar for any reason and the applicant feel aggrieved by his decision, he can file an application for review of the said decision with the Registration Department. The application for review must be supported by reasons for review of the decision and should be accompanied by the following documents:
- Deposited bank Challan for application fee of Rs. 500/-
- Copy of decision letter by concerned Registrar.