GUIDELINES FROM THE MINISTRY OF LEGAL AFFAIRS
REGISTERING A BUSINESS NAME IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
1. What is a business name?
A business name is the name attached to an unincorporated undertaking (or business) to distinguish it from other businesses and corporate entities, particularly those involved in the same activities.
Business names (and businesses) have no legal status of their own and generally, all legal responsibilities arising out of the carrying on of their activities falls on those who are its owners / proprietors.
Business names are registered under the Registration of Business Names Act, Chapter 82:85 (2016 Revised Laws of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago).
2. Types of business name registration
a. Individual (also referred to as a sole trader) – where the business is owned by an individual to carry on business activities.
b. Firm (also referred to as partnership) – where the business is owned by two or more individuals or business entities i.e. a company or corporation.
3. How to register a business name
a. Step 1 - Reserving the business name
b. Step 2 - Registering the business name
4. When starting a business, you should choose a unique and distinctive name. The name must meet certain requirements before it is approved by the Registrar of Companies:
a. The name must be distinctive, i.e. a word or words which enables people to be able to tell your business or company apart from other businesses engaged in the same activities. In other words, the name must not be likely to cause confusion with the name(s) of any existing registered or company or trademark. For example “B.A. Enterprises” may not be approved as it is not distinctive enough.
b. Try to incorporate your personal name or a combination of your First, Middle and Last name into your business name to increase the chances of approval, e.g. “Cerbay Tax Accounting Services.”
c. The name must not end with a legal element, i.e. a word or words which suggest that the business is an incorporated company, e.g. “Limited”, “Corporation”, “Incorporated” or “Association”.
d. The name must not contain any obscene words or expressions.
e. -The name must not suggest or imply a connection to any Government, organization or person unless the appropriate written consent is obtained and provided to the Registrar. Such words include “National”, “Commonwealth”, “Caricom” or “Bank”.
f. The name must not include the words “Co-operative”, “Co-op”, “Credit union” or “Friendly Society” as such institutions are registered / incorporated under legislation other than the Registration of Business Names Act and the Companies Act.
g. The name should not consist of general words, especially if they are used with names. For example, “Smith Services” is not likely to be approved, while “James Smith Tailoring Services” is more likely to be accepted.
h. The Registrar of Companies has a general discretion to disallow any proposed name which he considers to be objectionable in accordance with Section 16(3) of the Registration of Business Names Act, Chapter 82:85.