Company Formation

Companies House: how to register a company?

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If you are in the business world in the UK, you would probably have heard so much about a government institution called Companies House. The government of the United Kingdom has many departments and agencies, each handling or overseeing a duty. One of such is the Companies House.

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Answer Adeosun
Aug 9, 22 · 5 min read
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The Companies House is an executive agency of the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The agency is tasked with the duty of registering (incorporating) and dissolving limited liability companies and also making available registered companies’ information available for public knowledge in the UK.

Companies House has three offices for registration of companies – Cardiff for companies based in England and Wales, Edinburg for companies based in Scotland, and Belfast for Northern Ireland. They also have an office in London that provides services like companies search and documents reception.

The Companies House has been in existence since 5 September 1844, though affiliated and supervised by different governmental departments over the years, and is governed by the Companies Act 2006.

Using the Companies House’s different online search tools and apps, you can search for information on companies, file company documents, search for active and disqualified directors, and also download data about any company of your choice.

How to register a company at Companies House

  1. Choose an organizational structure – This step is a very important one because not all businesses are registered with Companies House. The sole trader and business partnership need only to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for self-assessment to pay tax while the limited liability company, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership register with Customs House. 
  2. Select a Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) number – After choosing the business structure, check the Companies House website for the SIC code appropriate for your business type. There is a condensed version of the SIC code made available on this website that must always be used when filing with Companies House to avoid rejection of an application.
  3. Choose a unique name – the name you choose for your company must be unique, contain LP, LLP, LTD, or PLC as the case may be, non-offensive, non-suggestive, or look-alike, or sound like another registered company name. You can verify the uniqueness of the name you have chosen on the Companies House website.
  4. Select the package that suits your need – this step is only useful if you are registering via a third-party website. In such cases, these third-party agents provide different packages varying in cost and offers. Choose the one that suits your need. Otherwise, if you are registering by yourself via the Companies House website, proceed to the next step. 
  5. Fill the IN01 form – in the appropriate places on the form IN01 (hardcopy or online), fill in your company information. These pieces of information include company name, SIC code, name of the director(s), name of persons with significant control (PSC), name of shareholders, company registered address, etc.
  6. Allocate shares to each shareholder – this is where the number of shares allocated to each shareholder is explicitly stated, even if it is just one.
  7. Draft the Memorandum and Articles of Association – the memorandum of association indicates the information of all interested parties in the incorporation of the company, i.e., persons owning at least one share. The article of association on the other hand is essentially the constitution of the company. You can either draft and submit one unique to your company or use the default one that applies to all newly incorporated companies.
  8. Submit your form! – after imputing the necessary information accurately, submit it to Companies House. As earlier mentioned, you can choose to register yourself online directly on the Companies House website, by post, use a third-party website, or an agent. Online registration costs £12, by post is £40 while the price may vary when you are using an agent or third-party website depending on the package you choose.

If you register online, it may take up to 48 hours for your company to be fully incorporated and a pdf copy of your certificate of incorporation sent to your email (or hardcopy by post if you opted for that). If you are registering by post, it may take up to 10 days for your certificate of incorporation to be ready and sent to you. 

Depending on the agent or third-party website and the package you choose (if you are going that route), the number of days for your certificate of incorporation to be ready will vary.

When should a limited company contact Companies House?

You must tell Companies House about changes to your limited company, including:

  • directors and company secretaries, for example, new appointments, resignations, or changes to their personal details
  • any changes to your company name, company registered office address, your accounting reference date, ‘people with significant control’ (PSC) information, and/or your company’s share structure, for example, if new shares are being issued or part of previously owned ones are being sold
  • details of any loans the company has taken or paid off
  • dissolving your company due to insolvency or anything else
  • filling the annual company account and confirmatory statement
  • reporting a fraudulent company information filing

All information provided to the Companies House must be accurate otherwise the company and its stands are to be penalised and prosecuted by the government.

How to register a business at Companies House?

You will need to:
HowTo step image

1. Choose a business structure

Identify the corresponding SIC code for your business type

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Frequently asked question

What is the difference between Companies House and HMRC?
Can I register my business at a residential address?
Can I hide my details on Companies House?
How do I hide my name from Companies House?
What is Companies House?

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