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Register your company with Companies House: What you need to know

What Is Companies House?

Companies House is a publicly owned government authority that forms part of HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs).

Its main purpose is to incorporate and regulate limited companies. It also has responsibility for inspecting, maintaining and storing accurate information about each limited company.

Do I Need to Register My Business With Companies House?

This depends on the type of business you have created. If it is a limited company or limited liability partnership, you are legally obliged to register with Companies House. This is because your business is recognised in law as a separate entity from its owners.

As a sole trader, you do not need to register with Companies House, but you are required to register with HMRC. A limited company is only required to register for VAT if its annual turnover exceeds £85,000.

If you need to register with Companies House, you must provide Memorandum and Articles of Association along with details of your registered company address. This must be a complete, physical postal address.

Your registered company will be placed on public record. All statutory mail and legal documents from HMRC and other government departments will be delivered there.

There is, however, no obligation to conduct your business from your registered company address.

Many business owners choose to work from home but use a virtual address as their registered company address in order to prevent their home address from being published in the public domain and avoid unsolicited visits or mail.

You can even use a virtual address as your trading address – a service known as a virtual office. This allows you to post a virtual address on your website, marketing materials and more, while avoiding unwanted mail and callers knocking at your door at home.

If you’re starting a new business and trying to decide which legal structure is best, check out our blog on Sole Trader vs Limited Company.

Here is more about Registered Company Addresses and Virtual Offices.

Can I Use A Third Party to Register With Companies House?

Yes. Registering your company with Companies House can be quite daunting. Getting the details right is vital.

If you’re in any way unsure about the documentation or evidence required, you can use a third-party company with specialist knowledge to ensure everything is correct and your registration goes smoothly.

This need not be a solicitor or accountant. In fact, if you choose either of those, you will probably end up paying far more than you need to.

How Much Does It Cost To Register With Companies House?

Registering with Companies House online can be done for as little as £12.00 and you can have your company set up within 24 hours.

Registering by post costs £40 and takes 8-10 days in normal times. It’s worth noting that Companies House is still experiencing delays due to Covid at the time of writing.

Registering your company with Companies House via a third party will cost slightly more than registering it yourself. But you will benefit from a professional business address and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your registration and all subsequent official documentation will be dealt with efficiently.

What Is The Difference Between A Registered Company Address And A Director’s Service Address?

A registered company address is the official address of your limited company. That is the address to which correspondence and legal documentation from all UK government entities will be sent.

Your registered office address must be registered in the same location as the company incorporation (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland).

A director’s service address is the authorised contact address for a particular company director, LLP member, secretary, subscriber or PSC (Person of Significant Control).

A director’s service address can be located anywhere in the world and is the location to which personal statutory mail will be sent from HMRC and Companies House to that individual.

Both the registered company address and a director’s service address are required by law and are displayed on the central public register.

You can use the same address for your registered office and service address. So, if you choose your home address as your registered company address it can also double up as your director’s service address.

How To Register Your Company With Companies House

Registering your company with Companies House is relatively straightforward provided you have all the correct documentation.

You will need to provide the name of your company along with the official address you want to be included in the public records. If you have company directors and a secretary, you will need to include those too.

As mentioned previously, you will also be required to submit your Memorandum and Articles of Association. The Memorandum of Association is a legal document that must be signed by all initial shareholders or guarantors in order to form the company. The Articles of Association are a set of written rules governing the running of the company.

Templates for both documents are available to download from the official website.

Once you have all the required documents, you simply need to upload or send your completed form with all necessary evidence to register your company. You will then receive your Certificate of Incorporation which must be kept safe. Your Certificate of Incorporation will confirm the following details:
• Name of your company (this must include ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ and must be unique)
• Your personal details (name, date of birth and nationality)
• Company registration number
• Date of incorporation
• Location of registration

Your registration details will be used when sending official documentation, such as your annual reports, to Companies House. Your Certificate of Incorporation may be required when applying for business accounts, loans and other funding streams.

Your name, month and year of birth, nationality and registered office address will appear on the public record along with the service address for any directors you may have.

After registering your company with Companies House HMRC will be informed automatically and create a UTR (Unique Tax Reference) for it. Your UTR will be sent to your registered company address from HMRC within three weeks of registration. If you have not received your UTR after three full weeks 3 weeks, contact HMRC on:
• UK: 0300 200 3410
• Outside UK: +44 151 268 0571

Do I Need To Name Shareholders And A Director?

Yes. Shareholders are the owners of the company and the director is legally responsible for the way the company is run. You may work alone, in which case you are the director and sole shareholder. Even if you employ others, like an accountant, to carry out certain tasks you remain legally responsible for meeting your statutory obligations.

What Are My Ongoing Obligations After Registering My Business Address?

Limited companies are required by law to keep company records and financial records:

Your company records must include:
• Details of directors, shareholders and secretaries
• Shareholder vote results and resolutions
• Loan repayment promises and recipients
• Promises of payments if something goes wrong and the company is at fault
• Transaction history of shares
• Any loan and mortgage that is secured against company assets

Your financial records must include:
• All money spent and received, including grants
• Asset details
• All debts the company owes
• Any stock the company owns at the end of the financial year
• Stock takings
• Bought and sold goods with details of who they were sold to (except retail)
Records must be completely accurate and available for audit. Failure to keep or produce these documents may result in a fine of £3000 and/or disqualification as a company director.
Company and financial records must be kept for a minimum of six years (some must be kept for longer so make sure you check before destroying any of the above). If any of your records are destroyed, lost or stolen, you must inform HMRC immediately, include the information in your tax return and do your best to recreate the documents.
You will be required to submit a tax return each year as well as an annual return. You will also be obliged to update details of any changes to the register of PSC’s (People with significant control).
You will also need to inform Companies House of any changes in information pertinent to your business such as the name or address.

What Do I Do If My Application Is Rejected?

Don’t worry. While registering your company with Companies House is relatively straightforward, it is certainly not uncommon for applications to be rejected. Accuracy is crucial and even the smallest error, like an incorrect digit on the date of birth, can lead to an application being refused.

Common reasons for applications to be rejected include:
• The company name is already taken
• The company name is considered inappropriate or offensive
• You have submitted incorrect information
• You have submitted an incorrect article of association or memorandum
• You have submitted an incorrect share structure

Registering your business with Companies House is one of the least dynamic aspects of running your own business. But it is essential. Don’t be intimidated by it, just take your time and make sure you complete all of the information accurately. And, of course, be sure to keep complete and accurate records and fill in your annual returns in good time. Errors can be costly to your bottom line and your reputation.

If you are based at your home address and uncomfortable having it on the public record, you can always take out a virtual office subscription with the ‘Registered Company Address’ addon and use that on your website promotional literature and public record at Companies House.

Paul Sandquest

Head of Marketing

Paul is Head of Marketing at Virtually There and has over a decade of experience supporting businesses across the globe.

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