When you are looking to set up a limited company you will need to know what classification your business will fall under. There are a number of government recognised five-digit codes that are applied to the type of business that you have. These are called Standard Industrial Codes, or SIC for short.
Your company SIC code is used to categorise and describe what your business does and how it functions. When setting up a new company, you will need to choose the relevant codes that best reflect your business activities. For example, if your company is involved in hairdressing or beauty therapy, then your SIC code would be 96020. If your company produces artisan chocolate confectionery, then your SIC code would be 10821.
Should you want to register your limited company and leave it in a dormant state for the time being, then you can assign it a 99999 SIC code that is used for dormant companies. You would then need to change your company SIC code to something more appropriate for the nature of your business when you decide to start trading with the company.
There are many people who decide to register a company under a specific name to secure and protect that name from being used by anyone else. If they are not ready to start trading as yet or are still undecided about what business to start under that name, then they can register it as a dormant company with the 99999 SIC code until they decide how to use it.
You can check out the complete list of government SIC code listings and decide which SIC code most directly relates to your business operation. Make sure that you choose the most appropriate code to suit your business as your code will be used by Companies House and other official bodies such as HMRC to precisely categorise your company on the public record of companies. This means that the general public can look up your businesses and others in your sector using your SIC code category number.
Do I only need one SIC code?
If your business is pretty straightforward in what it does and can be easily defined, then you will only need to choose one single SIC code to categorise your business. For example, if you run an accounting company, a firm of solicitors, or you own a bakery or a plumbing company, then you would only need to choose one code that best describes your industry or profession.
There are other forms of business that are more complex in nature and require more than one SIC code to best describe and categorise their business practices. For example, a company that both imports and exports goods, or sells contrasting products and services. In these cases, you will be allowed to select any number of SIC codes up to the maximum of four to best describe what your business does and cover all functions.
As the nature of many businesses can change over the years, you will need to confirm that your SIC codes are still relevant to your business each year. This is important because a company can change it’s focus and will need to target a different set of customers or clients than it did previously. Should your company still be listed under an old SIC code that no longer applies to your business, then it will make it more difficult for people to find you through searching SIC codes.
Who will need to know my SIC code?
Since June 2016, every new company formation undertaken needs to provide a relevant SIC code to Companies House on a formation. The code is used by Companies House to categorise your company under its pre-planned activities. If you fail to provide a SIC code upon registration, your application will be rejected by Companies House and you will not be able to form a company.
Your company will also need to provide its SIC code or codes each year while filing your annual confirmation statement should you have any changes to report during the year. This can be quite common in the early days of a new company as it starts to grow and expand and changes are made to its structure, new shareholders or directors added, changes to the PSC register etc.
How do you change a company SIC code?
You can change your company SIC code should it no longer be relevant to your business, or you start trading a dormant company that was originally registered under the 99999 SIC code. You can amend your SIC code through your confirmation statement filing.
You can do this when your confirmation statement is due for submission, usually 1-year and 14-days following incorporation, or you can choose to file an early confirmation statement at any time if your submission date is a long way off.
What if I pick the wrong SIC code?
If you feel that you selected the wrong SIC code to describe your business practices, then you are not obliged to operate under that SIC code if you believe it is incorrect. You can change your SIC code to one that is more appropriate for your line of work at any time with Companies House by submitting a confirmation statement with your amended details.