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Change your charity’s name

Published: 20/11/2018
Updated: 20/11/2018

If you want to change your charity's name the law says you must get OSCR’s consent first. This is because we need to check that the new name is not an objectionable name.

An objectionable name is: 

  • the same as, or too like, the name of another charity. 
  • likely to be misleading to the public about your purposes or activities 
  • likely to give the impression that you’re connected with an individual or organisation, such as Government, when you’re not
  • offensive.

See our guidance on charity names for more detail on how we decide if a name is objectionable.


For charitable companies and SCIOs

From 1 January 2018 SCIOs and Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) appear in the Registrar’s Index of Company Names, maintained by Companies House.

This means that SCIO names come under the Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014. The rules about ‘sensitive words or expressions’ and objectionable names are different although sometimes they can overlap. OSCR doesn’t make decisions on objectionable names based on these Regulations.

The Regulations set out ‘sensitive words or expressions’ that Companies House must check and approve before they can be used in a company or SCIO name. For example: 

  • Foundation
  • Association
  • Trust
  • Society
  • Fund.

For full details of ‘sensitive words or expressions’, please see the Companies House website guidance (Annex A).

While ‘charity’ and ‘charitable’ are sensitive words, you do not need to seek approval from Companies House before applying to OSCR for incorporation of a SCIO with one of these words in its name. If we decide to incorporate the SCIO, this will allow Companies House to include it on the Index of Company Names.

See our FAQs: SCIOs on the Index of Company Names for more information.


APPLICATION FORM: Changing your charity's name 

Any forms sent to us outside of our office opening hours by email will be treated as being received when the office is next open. 

Change of name FAQs


No, you only need consent to change the legal name of the charity as shown in your governing document. But you must tell us by emailing info@oscr.org.uk so we can update your working or 'known as' name on the Scottish Charity Register. Your new known as name must not be objectionable – if it is we may ask you to change it.

No, but you will need to provide us with an English translation of the name if possible, so we can decide if it is objectionable.

Yes. You need to:

a)    check if the name is ‘sensitive’ and, if it is, get approval from Companies House to use it

b)    get consent from OSCR to change the name

c)    register the name change with Companies House.

Because you are a company the name will not actually change until it is updated in the Register of Companies at Companies House.

When we get your application to change your name we check if: 

  • you have given us all the information we need to make a decision
  • you have made the application at least 42 days before the change is planned
  • your governing document and/or legal form gives you the power to make the change and you’re acting within your charity trustee duties 
  • the new name is objectionable. 

You can’t make the change until we give you our consent. We must give you a decision within 28 days. There are three possible outcomes:

  1. We give our consent to change your name: this means it is now for you to make the change following the rules in your governing document.
  2. We refuse our consent to change your name: if we do this we will send you a notice explaining our reasons why and letting you know how you can challenge our decision.
  3. We direct you not to change the name: this means you cannot change the name for the period set out in our direction.

You can now make the change following the rules in your governing document. Once you’ve changed the charity’s name you must notify us within 3 months by sending the information we asked for when we gave consent to make the change. 

We will only update your name on the Scottish Charity Register once we receive this information. 

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You can use the Notification of Changes Made Form to inform us of these changes or email us at info@oscr.org.uk.

When the new name you want is objectionable. Where we don’t consent we will refuse consent or direct the charity not to change its name. Our direction or refusal notice, we will explain the reasons why and how you can ask us to review our decision, if you disagree. Our review procedures set out in more detail what to expect if you request a review.