How to Register a Company in the UK
Got a winning idea for a business? Before you put your plan into action, you’ll need to register your business with Companies House. Start by checking that your business’ name hasn’t already been taken. Next, you’ll need to submit the forms that say how the business will be run and who owns shares. You’ll also need to register for corporation tax before you start taking money from customers.
1. Run a Business Name Check
Have you already decided what to call your business? Don’t forget to check with Companies House that your name hasn’t already been taken.
- Research the market that you’ll be operating in – the names of your competitor businesses should provide inspiration when choosing your own.
- Avoid company names that are hard to spell – and make sure it rolls easily off the tongue.
- Keep the name short – a punchy company name will be easier to remember and it will look better on marketing material.
- Pick a name that’s meaningful – your company name will be the first thing people learn about your business, so does it explain what you do?
Top tip: To distinguish your business from others that offer similar services, consider including your location (i.e. ‘South Leeds Roofers and Joiners’).
Got a name in mind? With our free online search tool, you can check whether your company name is available with Companies House.
2. Look Into How to Register a Company in the UK
You’ll do this with Companies House – the government body that deals with the regulation of limited liability companies in the UK. They’ll want to know:
- the names of the company directors
- what your company is called
- the business address (to protect your privacy, you can use our Central London location as your publicly registered business address)
There will be several forms to fill in, including a memorandum and articles of association. These documents formalise how the company will be run and who owns shares. They’ll require signatures from the director(s), shareholder(s) and company secretary.
Once you have all the information you need, you can register your limited company online with Companies House. With our company formation packages, you can do it quickly and simply. There are four packages to choose from:
- E-Formation (£9.99): perfect if you want to secure a company name and don’t need any official printed documents.
- Essential (£19.99): offers you complete confidence that you’re starting a company with the rules and regulations covered.
- Entrepreneur (£59.99): kick-start your next big venture with official compliance and additional documents of incorporation.
- Super (£89.99): the complete secretarial and compliance package to establish your company on a robust footing.
Best of all, when you sign up for one of our company formation packages, we pay the £12 Companies House filing fee for you!
3. Remember to Tell the Taxman
To register your company for corporation tax, you’ll need your company’s unique taxpayer reference. This should be mailed to you within 14 days of registering your company with Companies House. Once you have the reference, you can register online at the HMRC website.
- If your business’s annual turnover tops £85,000, you’ll also need to register for VAT – you can do this online at the HMRC website.
4. Register as an Employer
Every limited company must be registered as an employer. That’s true even if the only person you will be paying is yourself as company director.
- Register online at the gov.uk website before the first payday
- It will take up to five days to get the PAYE reference number you’ll need
- You’ll need a National Insurance number from at least one company director
5. Set up a Separate Bank Account
To keep your personal and business finances separate, you should give your new company a bank account.
Take some time to shop around to see which banks offer perks for small business owners.
• See how long you can get for free – most banks offer an introductory period of free banking, so check how long you can get.
• Compare how much you’ll pay when the introductory free period ends.
• Look out for what the bank charges for services such as paying in cheques and setting up standing orders.
• Book an appointment with a business adviser to get a better idea of which bank will be the right fit for you.
If you don’t have time to shop around, we can save you the hassle and help you set up a business bank account. We have a special relationship with Barclays which means you’ll get a range of great benefits with a Barclays Bank Business Account for Start-ups:
• Free business banking for 12 months (terms and conditions apply)
• Loyalty rewards – the longer you bank, the more money you get back
• Support and guidance from the Barclays Business Banking telephone team
• Manage your account online, by phone, via the Barclays Mobile Banking app or in branch
Register your own business from £9.99
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- Set up a basic Limited Company that’s ready to trade and choose anything else you need as extra.
- An easy way to set up a company that’s ready to trade. Plus, your official printed certificates.
- Your official certificates & company register. Plus, a registered business address, FREE for 3 months.
- The hassle and risk-free option for getting started and growing your limited company.
- Starter plus a comprehensive SME legal documents and credit score build & monitor service.
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What is a company formation agent?
Formation agents perform company registrations in partnership with Companies House. We’re one of the largest, and also the cheapest. We don’t just get your company registered then leave you to it – we use our experience to help you start your business properly. There are plenty of reasons to use a formation agent rather than go directly to Companies House. If you ask us, though, the best thing is that we go through the whole process with you, and get your application submitted securely online. We provide expert advice on the legal hurdles while you incorporate, and recommend good quality solutions that you might need after you’ve formed.
What’s the difference between sole trader and limited company?
Think of it this way: when you form a limited company, you put a protective shield between you and your business. Being a sole trader is the opposite – you have no protection. As a sole trader, you are responsible for any debt you might come into while you’re in business. When you register and become the director of your own limited company, you have less personal responsibility. The benefits are that you can claim back expenses, and add to your salary with dividend payments at the end of the year. For more information, see our Help Centre article about limited companies and sole traders.
How do I register a company?
Easy, we’ll do it for you. Check out our formation bundles to learn more about our different products. They start at £9.99, and go all the way up to our Super bundle. Limited company formation is a straightforward business if you’re as well-versed with the process as we are. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our company formation guides for an introduction and some insider tips.
Why The Formations Company?
We’re dedicated to British business, and love nothing more than seeing new companies flourish. 750,000 UK companies have trusted us to help them register, and we have thousands of happy customers who’ve seen how simple the formations process can be. We’re cheaper than going to Companies House directly, and cost less than most accountants. Our online application is incredibly simple, and if you’ve got all your documents handy it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete. So what are you waiting for? Start your business today.