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What is a Certificate of Good Standing?

Attracting new clients or customers is an important part of growing and sustaining any business, so what can you do to earn the trust of prospective and new customers to convince them to take a chance on you rather than one of your competitors? The answer to this is to obtain an official document from Companies House called a Certificate of Good Standing.

A Certificate of Good Standing, otherwise know as a Certificate of Existence, is simply a certificate that demonstrates to your potential new clients and customers that you are a trustworthy business and that you are up to date with all of your legal requirements in the eyes of the law.

Who can get a certificate?

A Certificate of Good Standing can only be ordered for a company that has already been incorporated. It can be requested by both public and private limited companies. Your company will only be granted a certificate if you satisfy these requirements:

  • Your company must be up to date with all of your legal filings and be in good standing with Companies House.
  • Public limited companies must have a registered secretary and at least two directors, one of whom must be a ‘natural person’.
  • Private limited companies must have at least one director who is a ‘natural person’.

If your business satisfies these requirements, then you are able to request a certificate for your company. You can have the certificate delivered to you or you can arrange for collection yourself.

How much does a certificate cost?

You can apply for your certificate through Companies House. There are two options available to you:

  • A standard order will cost you just £15.00 and usually takes around four working days to process. Your certificate will be posted out to your Registered Office Address.
  • A same day order will get your certificate issued much quicker, but comes in at £50.00. The same day service allows you to access and instant PDF copy of your certificate should you need it, but generally speaking a paper certificate actually carries much more gravitas because these are the only copies that carry an actual signature from a Companies House representative.

What is listed on the certificate?

Your certificate will detail certain pieces of official information, depending on your requirements, but will usually include the following:

  • The company name and registration number.
  • The date of incorporation.
  • The name of the company director(s).
  • Some additional details about the directors, e.g. nationality.
  • The name of the secretary (for a public business).
  • The Registered Company Address.
  • The company’s objects (if applicable).
  • Statement of good standing.

The aim of the certificate is to confirm that the company is genuine and trustworthy. The good standing statement would be considered to be the most important piece of information on the certificate. The statement effectively certifies that your business has been in continuous existence since its incorporation date, and confirms that there is no action being taken against your company.

Is having a Certificate of Good Standing useful?

Having a certificate could prove useful to you, especially when you are dealing with other well-established organisations that may need some reassurance of your status before they would consider working with you. A certificate will also prove useful when opening a company bank account. It can also be used as an example of trust when trying to attract new investors into your business.

For those looking to get a foothold in overseas business, a certificate can help to reassure overseas authorities that your business is genuine and up to date with all legal documentation and filing. You will generally need one if you wish to set up a foreign branch for your company abroad. However, if you plan to use your Certificate of Good Standing abroad, you will need to get it legalised with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Once legalised, your certificate will carry the same weight and status as it has in the UK. For these purposes, you will need to get a paper copy of your certificate. You cannot get a digital copy of your certificate legalised by the FCO because it doesn’t carry an actual seal and signature from a Companies House official.

Can my request for a certificate be refused?

To be issued with a Certificate of Good Standing you will need to satisfy their requirements as listed above. You will be turned down for a certificate under the following circumstances:

  • Your company has not supplied sufficient information to Companies House about the ownership or constitution.
  • Your company is not up-to-date with its annual confirmation statement and annual accounts.
  • Your company lacks at least one natural (human) director.

Something to also bear in mind is that Certificates of Good Standing are only valid for three months from the date of issue. After this time you may want to consider applying for a new one as many organisations and authorities will expect to see a more recent up-to-date certificate.

Most registered companies operating in the UK may not have a particular need for a Certificate of Good Standing, however many will request one to satisfy themselves and any shareholders and investors in the business that the company is meeting its regulatory obligations. It can also help to give confidence to clients, customers and suppliers that you run a trustworthy and reliable company.