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How to register with Companies House and get a certificate of incorporation

3-minute read

How to register with Companies House and get a certificate of incorporation
Josh Hall

Josh Hall

4 April 2018

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If you’re setting up a limited company, registering your company or partnership with Companies House is one of the most important steps.

Registering with Companies House can seem daunting, but as long as you’ve gathered the right information, it should be relatively painless. Or, if you prefer, you can pay a registrar to do it for you.

Here’s our guide to registering with Companies House.

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Do I need to register with Companies House?

Whether or not you need to register with Companies House depends on the legal structure you've chosen for your business. Sole traders don’t need to register with Companies House. Instead, they need to register with HMRC and complete an annual Self Assessment tax return.

However, if you’re starting a limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP), you’re legally required to register with Companies House.

How much does it cost to register with Companies House?

The cost for registering with Companies House depends on how you send your application, and whether you do it yourself or pay a third party registrar.

  • if you choose to register yourself, it can cost as little as £12 if you register online. You can pay this by debit or credit card, or Paypal, and the application normally takes 24 hours
  • if you register by post the fee is £40 and you’ll be set up within eight to ten days
  • if you need to complete registration on the same day, you can pay a fee of £30 for software incorporation (like using Sage or 121 Company Formation), as long as you complete your registration by 11am

The fees charged by third party registrars vary, but some services offer basic company registration for as little as £10.

Can I use a third party to register with Companies House?

Yes, there are many registrars that can complete the registration process for you with Companies House. They’ll handle all the paperwork, but it’ll often cost you more than doing it yourself.

Many new companies choose to use registrars for several reasons. Firstly, they can be confident that the application process will be handled correctly. Additionally, registrars often offer services including registered addresses (many of which are in prestigious London locations), directors’ service addresses (so that directors’ residential addresses are not on the public record), and mail forwarding from HMRC and Companies House.

How to register with Companies House as a sole trader

If you’re operating as a sole trader, rather than a limited company, you don’t need to register with Companies House. However, you’ll need to register with HMRC and complete an annual Self Assessment tax return. You may also need to register for VAT.

If you’re not sure which legal structure to choose, read more about the differences between sole traders and limited companies.

How to register a limited company with Companies House

If you choose to register a limited company with Companies House yourself, the process is simple. First, there are a few pieces of information you’ll need, including your company name (read more about choosing a name for your company), address, and details of company directors and secretary where relevant. You’ll also need memorandum and articles of association – you can download a memorandum and articles of association template.

Next, it’s time to register with Companies House. You should make sure that you keep your registration details safe, as you’ll need them to file further documents, which you’ll be required to do at least annually.

Once you’re registered, just follow the step-by-step process. Provided that you’ve completed the form correctly and paid the fee, you should appear on the register within 24 hours.

Register a company with Companies House here.

What is a certificate of incorporation?

After you register your limited company with Companies House, you should get a certificate of incorporation. You can choose to get this in either paper or digital format.

The certificate of incorporation is a legal document and confirms your company’s:

  • name
  • registration number
  • date of incorporation
  • location of registration (e.g England and Wales, or Scotland)

These details will be added to the Companies House register, which is available to the public.

Some call the certificate of incorporation a company’s birth certificate – it states that your company exists, and you may need to show it to get access to products like business bank accounts, loans, and other funding.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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