When you’re searching for how to set up a company, how to register as a sole trader, how to pay your self-assessment tax return, one organisation you’ll see come up time and time again is Companies House.
At Impact Brixton, we’re dedicated to supporting and empowering entrepreneurs, freelancers, creatives and small business owners of all levels of experience – and that includes people who are just starting out. So we’ve put together a handy guide to help you understand how Companies House works, and when and how you might need to register your business with Companies House. Scroll down to read more!
What’s Companies House?
Companies House is the official register of companies in the United Kingdom. It’s a government agency that maintains a public record of information about companies registered in the UK. So if you’re a business owner or thinking of starting a business, you’ll likely interact with Companies House!
When you register a company, you provide details such as the company’s name, address, directors, and shareholders. Companies House then makes this information available to the public. This transparency helps ensure accountability and trust in the business sector in the UK.
It’s also super useful for finding information about a company – you can use the Companies House search function to find what you need. You can search the Companies House register to discover a wide range of information including financial statements, company filings, and details about company directors. It’s a valuable resource for anyone looking to research or engage with businesses in the UK.
If you have a limited company, you’ll need to register with Companies House. It’s an essential step in the process of establishing and maintaining a company in the UK. Read on to discover when and how to register with Companies House.
When to Register with Companies House
We get a lot of entrepreneurs who come to us having done some research and discovered that UK law states that all businesses need to register with Companies House within three months of starting your business to be trading legally. And that is absolutely the case – but it’s worth making sure you really understand what ‘all businesses’ means in this context, so you know who needs to register with Companies House.
If you’re setting up a limited company or a limited liability partnership (LLP), then you need to register with Companies House. You can find out how to do this by checking out our clear and simple step-by-step guide.
You don’t need to register to be self-employed or a sole trader. There is no self employed registration process, and no self employed register in the same way that there’s a register of limited companies and LLPs on Companies House. So you don’t need to sign up to be self-employed! However, while as a sole trader you don’t need to register with Companies House, you do need to register with HMRC. This is so that you can submit your annual self assessment tax return to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions. You can find our complete guide to registering as a sole trader here.
Lots of people choose to use a virtual office when registering with Companies House. A virtual office allows you to register your business with Companies House using a professional address, rather than using your home address. This has the advantage of making your business look super professional, and it means that you can protect your privacy because you don’t have to put your home address on the public register. So it’s definitely worth considering! Impact Brixton’s Virtual Office packages start from just 0.41p per day. And you can find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of getting a virtual office for you business here!
How and When to Use the Companies House Name Checker
If you’re wondering ‘what’s the Companies House name checker?’, don’t worry. It’s a super simple tool that you can use to check Companies House for names when deciding what to name your company.
UK law states that no two companies can have the same name, so it’s important you check for company name overlap when you’re setting up your business. This unique name requirement helps to prevent confusion in the marketplace, protect brand identities, and avoid fraud. It also ensures clarity, legal accountability, and compliance with regulatory standards. All in all, this unique name requirement is designed to contribute to a fair and transparent business environment in the UK.
So when you’re coming up with an eye-catching and individual name for your business, you’ll need to do a quick UK Companies House check. It’s easy to search Companies House for a name. All you need to do is head to this Government web page, enter your desired company name and hit search. This clever companies checker tool will run some company checks to make sure your name is unique.
How to Search Companies House
There are a number of things you can look for on Companies House. You can search Companies House for directors, to find out who runs a company you’re interested in. You can search Companies House for a company number (which is especially useful when you need to find your own company number in a hurry!). You can even search Companies House by postcode, which is super helpful if you’re looking for businesses in a certain area. And if you want to check you’ve got the right company number, you can even search Companies House by company number to find out which company number responds to which brand.
It’s pretty straightforward to conduct a company search on Companies House. To use Companies House to search for a company, here’s what you need to do:
- Head to this page on the UK Government website.
- Use the search tool. If you want to search for something really specific, hit the ‘advanced search’ option. This allows you to fill in one or more fields to search the Companies House register.
- If you like, you can use the download tool to keep a CSV of your search results.
How to Use Companies House to Grow Your Business
Lots of people just use Companies House to check business information. But you can use Companies House for so much more than that! When Impact Brixton was just starting out, we used Companies House to help us find local business owners who might be interested in joining our community of creative entrepreneurs. Here are some top tips on using Companies House to grow your business.
1. Find Local Collaborators
Try searching by your local area to find companies in your area who might be interested in collaborating with you – you’ll be able to send a quick note to their email address, or a friendly flyer to their registered company address!
Remember always to be polite and professional. This is about building partnerships, so it’s important to be friendly and respectful!
2. Check Out Your Competition
The advantage of Companies House is that you can search the register to find your competitors’ financial statements, business structure, and key personnel. This is a great way to learn how to run your business, and to make sure you’ve structured your business in a way that can compete. Understanding your competition can provide insights into market trends and help you identify areas for improvement within your own business.
3. Conduct Due Diligence for Partnerships
Setting up a partnership can be a great way to get into business. It’s always nice to have someone to share the highs, lows and responsibilities with! Before entering into partnerships or collaborations, though, it’s a good idea to check the Companies House records.
What ventures has your prospective partner been involved in before? How did they go? Searching Companies House can help you assess your potential partner’s financial stability, track record, and overall credibility. It’s definitely better to find out now than later!
4. Conduct Credit Checks on Customers and Clients
As well as checking out potential business partners, Companies House records can also be used for running credit checks on potential customers or clients. If you’re looking to mitigate risks and ensure timely payments from your customers or clients, then it’s a good idea to do a quick financial health check by looking at their records on the Companies House register. Especially if you’re a business engaging in B2B transactions!
Companies House is a really powerful tool for business intelligence and strategic planning. By leveraging the information available, you can make informed decisions to help boost your business.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Companies House dissolve a company?
Yes. Striking a company off the Companies House Register, a process known as dissolution, is usually the choice of the directors and shareholders of the company. This might be because they want to retire or the company is a dormant subsidiary of a wider group, and so they no longer have use for the company.
However, there are instances where a company may be forcibly struck off the Companies House register. Here’s what you need to know.
Under Section 1000 of the Companies Act 2006, the Registrar of Companies at Companies House can initiate the process of removing a limited company from the register if it is believed to be no longer trading. Companies may also face compulsory strike off for non-compliance, such as failing to submit annual statements, accounts, or updating registered office information. So you need to keep up with these requirements if you want to avoid your company being closed!
To find out more about the process of compulsory dissolution, check out this handy guide.
Where is Companies House?
Companies House have a number of locations throughout the UK. Its main office is in Cardiff, and they also have offices in Belfast and Edinburgh. You can find a full list of Companies House addresses here.
Why do I need to register with Companies House?
Registering with Companies House in the UK is mandatory for limited companies and limited liability partnerships. And here’s why.
Registering with Companies House provides legal recognition for your company as a separate entity, which safeguards your personal assets. And as no two companies can have the same name, registering your company protects your brand and prevents anyone from using your company name. You may also find that you need to register in order to open a bank account and access various business services, loans, and legal transactions, as well as government support programs and grants. Registering with Companies House offers legal protections for directors, defining roles and responsibilities, and enhances credibility, building trust with stakeholders, customers and clients. And it’s the law! So if you don’t register, you risk a hefty fine.
Will Companies House accept scanned signatures?
In many cases, Companies House will accept scanned signatures. However, this depends what kind of document you’re sending and also changes depending on extenuating circumstances, so it’s best to check out this list on the UK Government website!
Are Companies House penalties tax deductible?
No. If you incur a penalty with Companies House, the amount you paid is not a tax allowable expense in your accounts. That means that they need to be included in your figures as Statutory Penalties, and adjusted out in the tax computation as penalties not tax deductible.
Do charities need to register with Companies House?
This very much depends on the business structure you choose when setting up your charity. For example, all charitable companies need to be incorporated at Companies House and registered with the Charity Commission. However, charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) do not have to register with Companies House, though they still need to register with the Charity Commission. Check out our complete guide to setting up a charity in 2023 to learn more and discover whether your charity needs to be registered with Companies House.
Companies House is a fantastic resource that can help your business to thrive. Registering your business with Companies House is way more than just a box to tick – it’s a fundamental step in establishing and maintaining a successful business.
By offering legal recognition, transparency, and access to essential services, Companies House provides a crucial foundation for building a business. It’s about building a solid foundation, protecting your brand, and accessing opportunities that contribute to the growth and success of your venture. So make sure you register your business on time, and don’t forget to continue to use Companies House as a resource!
To find out more about how to register your company with Companies House, you can follow our step-by-step guide.