Whether you live in the UK or merely want to trade here, there are various ways to register your company and make yourself official. Fortunately, long-gone are the days of lengthy paper form filling and waiting for everything to be completed at a snails pace. These days you can form a new company in less than one working day and even hire an agent to do all the work for you.
When you are thinking about starting up a company, the first question to ask yourself is what kind of company do you want to form? And once you know this, you can go on to the actual company formation process and download all the relevant forms to fill in manually and post off to Companies House. Or you can choose to register yourself online to speed up the formations process, or alternatively, use our company formation service to make the process much simpler.
There are three basic formats for a business within the UK – sole trader, limited company or a business partnership. All of them are suitable for different business types so choosing the right one is the first step towards registering your company.
Sole traders are individuals who are also their own business. You can trade under your own name or under a business name and you need to register for self-assessment with HMRC to do this – you will need your national insurance number for this process. Sole trader is the simplest form of a business in the UK and may suit freelancers, tradesman and others who work on their own.
You may wonder whether you should trade as a sole trader or set up as a Limited Company. To help you make up your mind you should read our helpful blog post about this.
Business partnerships are formed between two or more individuals with all parties sharing a responsibility within the business. Again, you must register for self-assessment and profits are shared between the partners. There are rules about choosing your company name and there are some restrictions about the use of certain words or choosing a name that is already registered to someone else, or choosing a name that is too similar in structure to an existing registered company. The details of these can be found through the Companies House website.
Registering a limited company requires at least one director in order to be able to incorporate it and for it to becomes a legal individual in its own rights. Limited companies also must have at least one shareholder, who may also be a director and needs to be registered with Companies House. So you can be a sole company director and shareholder of your own business. You also have the option of adding more directors and shareholders in the future should you decide to expand your company.
There are more rules about forming a limited company than with the other types of businesses but there are also additional benefits, such as your personal finances being protected in the event that the business fails.
If you want to take the hard work out of officially forming your business, then you may consider using our Limited Company Formation Service to save yourself a lot of extra effort. It is a simple two-step method where you order online and we contact you for the necessary information that we need to swiftly and securely register your company with Companies House.
Preparing for registration
As well as the information required for the registering of the company, there are some other documents to consider preparing. One of these is a business plan, a way of creating the solid foundation on which the business is built. While there is no requirement to have a business plan in place when you start a business, many companies opt to have one to show to potential shareholders and investors that they are serious about their future plans. It can also help to secure business financing to invest into the company. Many business lenders will want to see a sturdy business plan as part of their decision making process.
Having a business bank account is also a necessary requirement of forming a company so you should also look to organise one of these prior to forming the company. This allow the business to separate its dealings from the personal dealings and finances of anyone running the company and there are a number of different banks offering this type of account. There are also fast-track services available through us if you realise you are a little behind on your schedule or are unsure about which bank you should approach.
The easiest way to register a business in the UK is to use the online facilities offered by Companies House paired with the services of an online mediator such as Your Virtual Office. Our service involves collecting the information required for the company formation process and completing this online on your behalf. There is no paperwork to sign or even postal documents required and once the application is approved, then a certificate of incorporation is provided.
The information required to form a limited company online includes:
- The company name (in line with regulations from Company House)
- Registered office address
- Details of directors
- Details of shareholders or guarantors
- Memorandum and articles of association
- Statement of capital
- Security information
- A PSC register (persons with significant control)
Questions of official addresses
One of the issues for businesses forming from outside the UK, as well as for some within the country, is the issue of the address for the registered office and that of the director.
The registered office does not need to be the trading address of the business or the residential address of the director – it can be a designated address and should be one which is attended on a daily basis so that no official mail from HMRC or Companies House is missed or left unanswered. This is why we offer a Registered Office Address service, allowing a business to use our prestigious London address as their registered office. All important mail is collected and forwarded on to your chosen private address, or is scanned and emailed to you.
Likewise, some company directors don’t want their private home address to be on the public record where anyone could find it. So we also offer a Directors Service Address where our London premises can be the registered address for the director of the business and will keep your private home address off public record. Both of these address services include the ability to collect mail in person at our London office, and forward statutory mail so you promptly receive any official paperwork sent to your business.
Using virtual services
Once the business is formed, then the real work can begin – but not all of it needs to be done on your actual business premises. An increasing number of businesses owners are using virtual office services to handle a number of areas such as admin and telephone answering, saving money on employing staff while guaranteeing the quality of the service provided to customers. These services include mail handing, telephone answering, message taking and call forwarding and even the use of a London meeting room along with reception staff to impress potential clients, partners and investors who are visiting London.