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What are the company name restrictions in Netherlands?


Before starting a business in the Netherlands, you need to consider your company name, and the restrictions that apply in the Netherlands.

A company name is officially called a 'trade name'. Trade names are protected in the Trade Name Act. This law also contains rules that your company name must meet:

  • Be honest

  • You may not pretend to be bigger or different than you are. For example, if you have a sole proprietorship, you may not use the name Jansen & partners. Then it seems that there are several owners.

  • You may not use someone else's personal name.

  • You may only use the words "bank", "architect" or "accountant" in your company name if you really are.

For example, you can’t simply use the name ‘bank’ , ‘university’, ‘accountant’ in your company name, unless you are licensed to perform these activities. You are also not allowed to use personal names of someone else in your company name, like ‘Albert Heijn’ or ‘Freddy Heineken’. Assuming of course, such names are still available, you can use these names if it’s your actual name. Do you use your own name in your company name? Keep in mind that you run a greater risk of unwanted sales and even identity fraud.

Do not choose a company name with a brand name from another company (or names similar to it). A customer or supplier can then get confused. They may think that the products with that brand come from the company that uses the brand name in its company name.

You may not use a company name that can cause confusion with the public (for example, with customers or suppliers) because the name resembles an existing company name. Whether confusion can arise depends, among other things, on:

  • the similarity  in the name/brand;

  • the extent to which the activities are similar;

  • the overlap of the work area, ie the area where the company operates.

  • If you find a company name misleading or confusing

Do you think the company name of another company is misleading or confusing? First try to solve it mutually. Is this not possible? Then you can start a procedure with the court.

Not all special characters and punctuation marks are allowed. You may only use @ & + and - in your company name. Characters like ()? ! * # / may not, for example, appear in your company name.

Can I add multiple Trading names in Netherlands?


Yes, you can. The trade names don’t have to be similar to the statutory company name. This way you have use multiple brands/trade names, using only one company. Please note that using a trade name does not protect your brand in all situations, and brand registration might still be suggested. 

When you register a trade name in the Netherlands, you are allowed to issue invoices, or sign contracts, in the name of that trade name (instead of the legal company name).


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