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When should I change from sole trader to limited company?

Many businesses begin life as a sole trader by default: it’s just how many people start out. But when is it time to make the change from sole trader to a limited company? With more personal responsibility on you when it comes to factors such as losses and tax, changing to a limited company structure might be the best option for you and your business.


Limited company formation is a good route for most new businesses. This is because it’s a structure that provides some protection for you as an individual. According to gov.uk, the definition of a private limited company can be understood as something which is a legal entity in its own right and is separate from the people who own it. A limited company is also considered separate from your own personal finances. Owners are given limited liability and are only liable to for debts up to the value of what they have invested.

There are certainly some considerable advantages in changing from sole trader to limited company, and a change of structure could definitely pay off in the long-run. Let’s take a look at why you might want to make the change to sole trader sooner rather than later.


Protect your business name

One excellent advantage of forming a limited company is that you can secure the name you’d like for your company. This is particularly handy if you want to create a website, produce business cards or get a logo designed. Protecting that name puts you safely in the knowledge that no one else is going to take it and form a company using a name which is similar – which is really useful if you’d like to grow and become recognised as a brand.


Become more tax efficient

The difficult thing about being a sole trader is that you face being taxed on your profits. However, this is only once you earn more than £11,000 a year. After you reach this point you might find yourself paying up to 45% of your overall income if you earn over £150,000. If you change to a limited company setup, however, there are a lot more benefits to be had in terms of paying less in personal taxation. As a limited company, you will be liable to pay corporation tax for any profits that you make. This is currently set at 19% and will decrease to 18% by 2020. Additionally, you can pay yourself separately in dividends, an option you cannot take as a sole trader, allowing you to keep more of your earnings. Learn more about limited company tax in this simple guide.


Limit your liability  

Another very important benefit to note is that you will no longer be personally liable for debts that your company might incur. This means you won’t find yourself out of pocket if things go wrong, giving you that extra layer of protection. Remember, the success of your business is not always totally dependant on your efforts. This kind of insulation is not something a sole trader gets to benefit from. This means it is worth bearing in mind when deciding how you want to structure your business operations.


Boost your professional status and attract new clients

Generally speaking, having “Ltd” on the end of your company name looks a lot more professional to customers. It shows potential clients that you take yourself and what you do seriously. Being able to call yourself a private limited company gives off a sense of prestige. In every part of your business, it’s important to convey a sense of a sense of confidence in yourself. That, in turn, will make customers confident in you.


Take your business to the next level

When you change from sole trader to limited company, the opportunities for growth start to truly emerge. You’ll have a protected business name, added professionalism and more cash for you to keep. This means a limited company structure is undoubtedly going to give you and your business the necessary tools to thrive.

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Formation bundles



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  • £9.99
  • E-Formation

  • Set up a basic Limited Company that’s ready to trade and choose anything else you need as extra.
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  • £19.99
  • Essential

  • An easy way to set up a company that’s ready to trade. Plus, your official printed certificates.
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  • £59.99
  • Entrepreneur

  • Your official certificates & company register. Plus, a registered business address, FREE for 3 months.
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  • £99.99
  • Super

  • Your official documents, and confirmation statement. Plus, a registered business address, FREE for a year.
  • £29.99
  • Starter

  • The hassle and risk-free option for getting started and growing your limited company.
  • £79.99
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  • Starter plus a comprehensive SME legal documents and credit score build & monitor service.
  • £149.99
  • Pro

  • Essentials plus a 24/7 legal advice helpline, and your home address privacy secured.

Knowledge hub

Ready to have your company set up?
Registering a company might seem an intimidating process, but it’s actually much simpler than you think: especially in the hands of seasoned company formation agents like us. We’ll not only help you with registering a company, but offer a range of services to support your business at all stages of its life. We’ll help you sort out your company registrations online, with a process so quick and easy you can go ahead and focus on the fun bits.
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.

Learn more about starting a business