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11 rules for naming your company (Sdn Bhd) in Malaysia

Last updated: March 16, 2023
Written by Dylan Damsma

Unlike registering for a website domain name where there are fewer restrictions, so as long as the name is available on the domain registrars, you should follow the company naming guidelines as published by the Companies Commissions of Malaysia (SSM) when naming your company to increase the likelihood of company name approval during your company incorporation process. Even if your company name was approved, the SSM has the right to direct your company to change its name if they believe that the company name should not have been registered in the first place. These are the 10 rules that you should bear in mind when deciding on a name for your company.

1. The company name must not already exist

This is one of the first things the SSM officers assess when evaluating your company name — whether the company name already exists or has been reserved. Besides engaging with a company secretary to do the name search for you, another easy way is to search for your desired company names on the MYDATA portal or the SSM e-Info portal. If the company name has been used by an existing business entity, it will show up on the list.

2. The company name must not be identical to the company name of another existing business entity

While it is clear that no 2 business entities should have the same name, an identical name should be avoided as well, especially if the other company has the same business nature as yours. Some of the criteria the SSM looks at in determining whether a company name is identical to another are as follows:

  • With or without the word 'The' as the first word of the company name. For example, The ABC Sdn Bhd is considered identical to ABC Sdn Bhd.
  • Plural version of the company name. For example, Apple Sdn Bhd is considered identical to Apples Sdn Bhd.
  • The spacing between letters and punctuation marks. All single letters in the company name will be consolidated into 1 word. For example, A-B C Sdn Bhd is considered identical to A B C Sdn Bhd and ABC Sdn Bhd.
  • The symbol '&' is considered to have the same meaning as the word 'and'. For example, A&B Sdn Bhd is considered identical to A and B Sdn Bhd.
  • Synonyms. For example, ABC Development will be considered the same as ABC Building and ABC Renovation.
  • Stem words are equivalent to their root word. For example, ABC Development and ABC Developing are equivalent to ABC Develop.
  • Direct translation. For example, Merah Biru is equivalent to Red Blue.

3. The company name must not contain words that have the same meaning as the word 'company'.

As the term 'Sdn Bhd' will be automatically added to the back of your company name, words that have the same meaning as the word 'company' cannot be used in your company name. Here are some examples:

  • Sendirian / Sdn
  • Company
  • And company
  • Corporation
  • Co

4. The company name can be in English, Bahasa, or even foreign languages

It is recommended to not use single words that are too general such as 'Technology' and 'Computer'. You can use words from different languages in your company name. If the company name contains foreign languages, you should explain the meaning of such words accordingly i.e. how it is related to your business. Besides that, you should provide a link to an online dictionary that explains the meaning of the words to support your application. Similarly, an explanation should be given for made-up names that do not exist in the dictionary. Here are some examples of name explanation:

5. The company name can consist of the names of directors

The names of directors as stated in the company incorporation form can be used in your company name. If the names of other individuals related to the directors are to be used, proof of relationship must be given together with a consent letter.

6. The company name can include the usage of certain symbols

Symbols can be used if they are used in a grammatically correct way. These are some symbols that are allowed to be used in the company name.

  • And & For example, A & B Sdn Bhd.
  • Full stop . For example, A. B. Sdn Bhd.
  • Hyphen - For example, A-B Sdn Bhd.
  • Apostrophe ' For example, A' B Sdn Bhd.

7. The company name must not be an acronym that can be confusing

While the usage of acronyms are allowed in your company name if the explanation of the acronyms is provided, acronyms that can be confused with names that are associated with the following should be avoided:

  • Names of the institutions of higher learning. For example - UiTM, UTM, UM, UKM, UPM, UUM, USM, UIA, UNIMAS, UMS, UIAM, UPSI, UMT, UMP, UTEM, UNIMAP, UTHM, etc.
  • Names of the federal or state government agencies and Government Owned Companies (GLC). For example - SSM, CCM, JKR, JPA, JPM, BNM, KPDNKK, SEDC, PKEN, SIRIM, TNB, PNB, FELDA, FELCRA, PETRONAS, SKM, MYCC, MIDA, KWSP, LHDN, PERKESO, MARDI, RISDA, etc.

8. The company name must not contain obscene words

Words that resemble elements of any religion, are considered offensive to the public, and are blasphemous are not allowed to be used in your company name.

9. The company name must not contain gazette words

Certain words are gazetted and cannot be used unless the letter of authorization is obtained from relevant authorities or ministries. These are some categories of gazette words:

  • Words suggesting a connection with members of the Royal family or Royal patronage. For example - Royal, King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Crown, Regent, Imperial, etc.
  • Words suggesting a connection with a federal or state governmental department, governmental agency or local authority. For example - Federal, State, National, etc.
  • Words suggesting a connection with a foreign government or with an international organization. For example - ASEAN, UNESCO, NATO, EEC, OPEC, etc.

10. The company name must not contain controlled words that are limited due to national and public interest

There are controlled words that should not be used for the sake of national and public interest. These are some examples of controlled words:

  • Famous established names that are registered under the Trade Mark Registration Act. For example - Astro, DIGI, Berjaya, HICOM, Petronas, Telekom, etc.
  • Words suggesting a connection with gambling activities, drinking, or smoking. For example - Sweepstake Lottery, Liquor, Vape, etc.
  • Words suggesting a connection with governmental slogans. For example - Vision 2020, Malaysia Boleh, 1Malaysia, etc.

11. The company name must not contain words that suggest connections with activities regulated by laws, governmental agencies, and professional bodies

Words that suggest connections with regulated activities under various laws in Malaysia are prohibited in your company name. However, you may obtain written approval from the relevant governmental agencies and professional bodies for the consideration of the SSM. These are some laws and regulations with examples of word use:

  • Banking And Financial Institutions Act 1989. For example - bank, finance, money broker”, financial, leasing, credit, etc.
  • Securities Industry Act 1983. For example - stock exchange, stock market, securities trading market, etc.
  • Futures Trading Industry Act 1993. For example - futures exchange, futures broker, trading adviser, etc.
  • Insurance Act 1963. For example - insurance, assurance, underwriter, etc.
  • Money-Changing Act 1998. For example - money changer, foreign exchange, etc.
  • Valuers, Appraisers And Estate Agents Act 1981. For example - estate agent, house agent, property agent, house broker, etc.
  • Takaful Act 1984. For example - takaful, etc.
  • Accountant Act 1967. For example - taxation, tax, accounting, auditor, tax consultant, etc.
  • Medicine (Advertisement and Sale) Act 1956. For example - private clinic, private medical laboratory, alternative medicines, traditional herbs, tabib, hair loss, homeopathy, etc.
  • Any other laws as being notified to the Registrar of Companies from time to time.

Even if your company name consists of words that are easy to understand, it is best to explain the meaning behind the name and how it relates to your business. Bear in mind that while you can follow the rules as much as you can to increase the chance of approval, the SSM still holds the ultimate right to approve or reject your company name. A company name is not equivalent to a brand name. Hence, under the same company, you can run businesses under several brands of similar business nature.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from a company secretary, lawyer or other professionals according to your business needs.
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