How to Register a Company in the UK
5 June, 2021
You’ve got your business plan, and you’re ready to turn your dream into a reality.
Before you can start operating your business, you need to get it registered.
Understanding how to register a company in the UK can be confusing. It’s all about paying attention to detail with the legal requirements for registering your business.
You’ll likely need to find an account and lawyer to advise you before getting the process started.
We’re taking an in-depth looking at how to register your business in the UK.
Your Limited Company Options
When you’re registering your company in the UK, you have to decide what type of limited company format you want to follow. There are two primary types for you to choose from.
The most common option is a limited company by shares.
It means your company operates as a separate legal entity from the directors with its own finances.
Shares can be given out, allowing them to take a percentage of the profits after tax.
The second option is a guaranteed limited company.
It operates with guarantors in place of shareholders, who still hold shares. Companies in this category are not-for-profit, with profits reinvested back into the company.
Just like a limited company by shares, these companies operate separately from their directors.
How do I register my company in the UK?
Before you can register a UK company, there are a few steps you need to take first.
It’s ideal to be aware of these steps before you get started so you can plan accordingly.
You want to pay attention to the regulations relating to each step to give your application the highest chance of being accepted.
It’s a good idea to bookmark this page to use it as a reference to help guide you through the process.
Choose your company name
Deciding your company’s name is an opportunity for you to get creative.
Unfortunately, you often can’t use the name that you have your heart set on.
You’re not able to use the same name as another company that has the existing trademark.
An easy way to check this is through the Intellectual Property Office’s official list.
Another tool you want to use is the name-checker tool that is available through Companies House to check if your chosen name is free to use.
You can’t use a name that is too similar to an existing registered name – including using plurals or apostrophes.
It’s worth noting that you can operate under another trading name alongside your registered company name. Your company can have multiple trading names to reflect different products and services that you offer.
Your registered business address
One requirement to register your business is that you must have a registered business address. You want to pay attention to detail and make sure it’s accurate, as this is where all official documents will be sent.
You can use your home address as your registered business address if you are operating from home.
It’s worth noting that your registered address is publicly available through the Company House website. You may decide to use an office address for privacy reasons.
If you don’t want to pay the overhead costs of an office, you can choose to purchase a PO box to get a registered address.
Your documents from Companies House and HMRC will be sent to this address and then forwarded to you. If you want to use this option, you’ll need to arrange this before applying for company registration.
Every registered business address is required to have a postcode and must be in the region of the UK that you are operating in. If you are based in Wales, your registered business address must also be in Wales.
Documents required to register as a company in the UK
There are two legally required documents that you will need to set up to register your business. You will need a Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association for your limited company.
Memorandum of Association
All shareholders or guarantors will need to sign this document to confirm their agreement to form your limited company. This document is required under the Companies Act 2006.
Every shareholder or guarantor must have at least one share.
When registering your business online, this is part of the process and is not a separate document.
If you’re choosing to register by post, you will need to submit this document.
There is a pro forma that you can use to streamline the process. You cannot change this legal document once it is submitted.
Articles of Association
This document is essentially the written rules for your company.
You will need your company secretary, directors, and shareholders or guarantors to read, agree, and sign this document.
The government provides sample articles of association that you can use and that are suitable for most businesses.
If you have a more unique setup, you may decide that you need a more personalised document and require the help of a lawyer.
The people who make up your company
You want to keep track of everyone involved in your limited company and assign them a specific role within your organisation.
Your company must have at least one director.
These are the individuals who are responsible for overseeing the company.
It’s their responsibility to file the relevant accounts and reports. For an individual to be a company director, they are required to have a registered UK office address, be over the age of 16 and cannot have been previously disqualified from being a director.
It is the details of the directors that are publicly available through Companies House.
Failing to meet your legal responsibilities as a director can lead to disqualification, financial penalty, or prosecution in serious cases.
You do not legally have to appoint someone as your company secretary.
An individual who has an ‘undischarged bankrupt’ status or is the company’s auditor cannot take up this position.
You can take the roles of both director and company director simultaneously.
If you have another individual in this role, they will work alongside the director.
The majority of limited companies are limited by shares, giving shareholders a significant role.
These shares come with rights and responsibilities on the part of the shareholders.
Your limited company must have at least one shareholder.
When you’re registering your UK company, you will need to include a ‘statement of capital’.
This document must include the name and details of every shareholder, along with their number and type of shares. It should include the share capital – the total value of them.
You also need to have a section known as ‘prescribed particulars’, the rights assigned to the shareholders through the shares.
People with significant control
One category of people that is often overlooked is those with significant control.
They must be included in your PSC register, and Companies House must be informed of their role.
A person is considered to have significant control if they meet one or more of these criteria:
- They own more than 25% of your company’s shares
- Have more than 25% of the voting rights for the company
- Have the authority to appoint or remove the majority of the board of directors
Failing to record the information about those with significant control in your company is considered a criminal offence.
The SIC Code
SIC is an acronym that stands for ‘standard industrial classification of economic activities.
It identifies the type of company that you have.
There is a full list available from the Office of National Statistic to help you find the most appropriate SIC code. You will need to select the right code for your company.
Registering Online with Companies House
You can use the Companies House website to legally register your UK business. It comes with a £12 fee and usually gets an approval within 24 hours.
You will receive a ‘certificate of incorporation’, which is considered your registration evidence and provides you with the date of birth for your company’s limited status.
You will also find your unique registration number in this document, which you’ll want to make a note of for future reference.
You will need to have at least three pieces of evidence for the director and shareholders or guarantors while registering your business.
You will need the following personal information:
- Mother’s maiden name
- Father’s first name
- Phone number
- Passport number
- Town in which they were born
- National insurance number
You will need to create a government gateway identification and password for your newly registered company which is separate from your own.
As part of the registration process, you will need to register with HMRC for corporation tax.
At this stage, you can also register for PAYE (pay as you earn) if your company has employees.
Even if the director is the only one who works for the company, they are still considered an employee.
You do not have to complete your Companies House registration at once.
You can save your process and come back to it at a later time.
Registering your company via post
If you don’t want to use the official Companies House website, you can register your company via the post. You will need to complete a Form IN01, although this is a slightly more expensive process.
You will need to send the IN01 form and a £40 cheque to Companies House.
If you opt for this process, it will take up to 10 days for your company to be registered.
This process does not include your corporation tax registration with HMRC.
You will need to register for your corporation tax within the first three months of your trading.
Do I have to be a UK resident to set up a UK company?
There are currently no restrictions against those of third-country residency status from becoming a director, company secretary, or shareholder of a UK company.
The only relevant legal requirement is that the company must have a registered UK address.
In this scenario, you can use a registered office or premises address, along with a PO box if you are not a UK resident.
You want to check your work visa to see if it impacts your employment opportunities.
If you are on a work visa, you cannot earn an untaxed income.
Do I have to register my business in the UK?
If you’re operating as a self-employed sole trader, you don’t need to register your company through Companies House. You’ll fall into a separate category with its own regulations.
In this scenario, you have to register for a self-assessment with HMRC for your tax and National Insurance contributions.
If registering as a company isn’t for you, you’ll likely fit in as a self-employed sole trade.
If you do not have the time to register your company yourself, you can use formation agents.
They act on your behalf to register your company and do so electronically.
Using formation agents can save you time and make the process more streamlined.
You will need to make sure you have all the information mentioned above to provide to your formation agents. Having this information available right away can make the process faster.
Take the initiative to check that your preferred company name is available and that you have all your information to provide to the formation agents.
How itd24ore.com can help you register your company
Our ltd24ore.com service is here to help you open an online UK company in London.
This service comes with several benefits, including reduced opening costs, an online constitution without a notary, and free access to accounting software based on artificial intelligence.
We also offer online accounting, bookkeeping, and tax management service, including advice from tax consultants. Our team are available to assist you via chat, email, and telephone.