Company registration: Is it compulsory?

When founding a company or starting an independent activity, many people ask themselves whether they need to be registered on a kind of company register, since it’s mandatory in many countries. This, however, isn’t the case for all types of companies in the United Kingdom. The UK has had a system of company registration since 1844, but not every business needs to be on the register. For example, sole traders are exempt since they register with HMRC for ‘Self Assessment’. For other companies like limited companies or limited liability partnerships (LLP), they have to sign up to Companies House.

What is Companies House?

Companies House is the UK’s company register as well as being an executive agency and trading fund of Her Majesty’s Government. The body incorporates and dissolves limited companies as well as registering them and making the information available to the public so anyone can look it up. The United Kingdom’s Companies Act requests that companies that qualify be registered with Companies House as well as filing certain documents. The Companies Act 2016 is the legislation that governs company registration and provides a comprehensive code of company law for the whole of the UK. More than 4 million limited companies are registered in the UK and over 500,000 new companies are incorporated every year.

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How to register with Companies House

Registering with Companies House is a relatively straightforward process, although you can pay a registrar to take care of it for you if you’d prefer, which costs around £30 although the fee can vary. The cost of registering depends on the way you send your application. If you do it online, it costs £12, takes about 15-20 minutes to fill the forms in, and the application will be processed within 24 hours. Registering by post sets you back £40 and takes eight to ten days. If you’re in a rush, it’s possible to be registered on the same day (as long as your registration is completed online before 3pm) and this costs £100.

The information you’ll need to register your company is:

  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Names of company directors and secretary
  • Memorandum of association
  • Articles of association

Filing a confirmation statement

At least once a year, you will need to file a confirmation statement with Companies House as well as an annual return. This statement confirms that your company’s information is up-to-date. You can first search the register to see what information Companies House already has on your business. Alternatively, you can use this search to find out about any business, since everything is made public. This information includes the company’s current status, when the company was incorporated, any previous names the company had, when the confirmation statement was last filed, etc.

If any information pertaining to your company is out of date, you must update your records before you file the statement or at the same time as doing so. Filing the statement costs £13, which you have to pay once a year, no matter how many statements you file. Filing by post costs £40.

Please note the legal disclaimer relating to this article.


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