One of the most common questions we get asked as a hub for entrepreneurs is how to register a business with Companies House. In the UK, it’s a legal requirement for all limited companies to be registered with Companies House. And while it’s a really important step, the good news is that it’s not too difficult to do!
We’ve helped tons of entrepreneurs set up their business, which is why we’ve put together this handy blog post to guide you through the process.
It’s worth remembering that the rules and requirements for sole traders and partnerships are slightly different. So make sure you check out our complete guide to starting a small business for specific instructions! In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on registering a limited company. Here’s what you need to do in seven simple steps.
What do you need to register a business with Companies House?
When you’re ready to start your business journey in the UK, there are some key requirements to keep in mind. Here’s what you’ll need:
Step 1: Choose a unique company name
In the UK, it’s the law that no two companies can have the same name. So you’ll need to use the company name availability checker to make sure that your chosen name is distinctive. Get creative and choose a name that reflects your vision. Your business name will be the first thing that potential customers and clients see. So choose something spectacular that really captures your brand!
Step 2: Choose a registered business address in the UK
To register a company in the UK, you’ll need a local address. It’s perfectly legal to use your home address, but it’s worth remembering that whatever address you use will be available to view on Companies House, which is a public record easily accessible online. So for your own security and peace of mind, you might not want to use your home address!
But there’s no need to worry about spending tons of money on renting an office space so that you have a different address. For just 0.41p per day, you can use our address at Impact Brixton as your registered company address instead. All you need to do is choose a Virtual Office programme, and you’re free to use our professional postcode in the heart of Brixton Village, a renowned hub for small businesses. It’s the perfect way to boost your brand – while also protecting your privacy.
Step 3: Name at least one director
To register your business with Companies House, you’ll need at least one director. a director is typically responsible for overseeing the company’s operations, making strategic decisions, and ensuring that the company complies with relevant laws and regulations. So basically, it’s the person who’s running the show!
Your director doesn’t have to be a UK resident. Companies House welcomes entrepreneurs from all around the world. However, your director does have to be over 16 (even better if they’re over 18!), they cannot be facing ongoing bankruptcy, and they cannot be previously disqualified from being a director for malpractice.
Step 4: Name at least one shareholder
As well as a company director, you’ll also need a shareholder. A shareholder is an individual or entity that owns shares or stock in a company. And as they have a financial interest in the company, they often play a crucial role in its ownership and governance.
It’s perfectly possible to be a shareholder in your own company. Many business owners who start their own companies initially hold all the shares. So it’s really common – especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs!
It’s worth noting that while UK residency isn’t legally required for directors or shareholders, some UK banks may prefer resident directors or shareholders when you’re setting up a business bank account. So it’s a good idea to check with your chosen bank for their specific requirements before you make any important decisions.
Step 5: Prepare your memorandum and articles of association
These sound like fancy legal words, but they’re just documents that outline the company’s core rules and objectives. This is a really great opportunity to drill down into just how you’d like to run your business – your values, your goals and how you plan to get there. You can use standard templates or get them custom-crafted by professional advisers to suit your unique needs.
Step 6: File for registration with Companies House
Good news! Companies House offers online registration services, making the process of registering your business in the UK efficient and accessible. You can use their web portal to submit your application, though you can also apply by post if that’s easier for you.
When applying online, you’ll need to pay a small fee of £12. It’s the most important £12 you’ll spend on your journey to getting your company off the ground!
Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a Certificate of Incorporation. This official document confirms your company’s existence. Hooray!
Step 7: Register for corporation tax
Most limited companies in the UK are required to register for corporation tax, and you’ll need to do this within three months of setting up your company for everything to be above board and legal. You’ll get a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), which is a distinctive number assigned by HMRC in the United Kingdom to individuals and businesses for tax purposes. Keep this safe – you’ll need it to file your tax return!
And that’s it! You’re all set to start trading. You’ll just need to make sure that you keep accurate financial records and comply with filing deadlines for tax.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is Companies House?
Companies House is the United Kingdom’s official government register of companies and corporate information. It operates as an executive agency of the UK government, and its primary function is to collect, store, and make accessible various statutory information about companies and business entities registered in the UK. So it’s basically the UK’s business encyclopedia!
It’s worth remembering that Companies House is a public resource that can be accessed by anyone. So when you’re registering your business in the UK, you might not want to use your home address as your registered company address. Consider using a Virtual Office instead. This is a really simple and cost-effective way to get a professional address for your company, without spending heaps of money on renting a private office. It’s the ideal way to boost your brand while protecting your privacy.
Why was my business registration rejected?
There are a number of reasons why your application to Companies House may not have been accepted. Some of these reasons include:
- You chose a company name that’s too similar to someone else’s. Remember, it’s UK law that no two companies can have the same name. Use the company name checker to make sure your chosen name is available before applying to Companies House.
- You chose a name containing a ‘protected term’. These tend to be things that suggest royal or official appointment, though you can find a full list here.
- You appointed a company director that is not eligible to be a company director; for example, they were under 16 or facing ongoing bankruptcy.
- Your registration was not completed in full. Make sure you’ve fulfilled all of Companies House’s requirements!
How long does it take to register a company in the UK?
How long it takes to set up a company in the UK largely depends on the way you applied to Companies House. If you registered your business online, applications can typically be accepted within 24 hours. Postal applications tend to take slightly longer – usually around 8 to 10 days.
Registering your business with Companies House in 2023 is a simple but crucial process. It’s your first step to trading under your business name, bringing tons of opportunities for growth and success. Good luck on your business adventure, and remember – Impact Brixton is here to support you along the way. We can support you with affordable Virtual Office, friendly co-working opportunities, educational events and workshops, and even private office space for when your business grows.