All new companies in the UK must be registered before they can legally start to trade. This is a process which can be done in three ways. You can file completed hard copy documents direct to Companies House, use their Web Incorporation Service by submitting the required completed forms online or use the services of a company formations agent. Details of approved agents can be found on the Companies House website, or you can search for them yourself online.

Many people choose formation companies these days, as most provide a quick and efficient service for new company registration. Once you have provided all the necessary information to them, they will complete the process on your behalf. Within hours, you will receive your Certificate of Incorporation showing your company name, number and the date and location of registration. This document is your verification that your company is a legal entity. You will also receive the Memorandum and Articles of Association and Share Certificates for all shareholders.

Of course, you must choose a formations company carefully. Visit their websites and study what each offers, the costs and references and comments from existing customers. Call them with any queries you may have and assess how professional, helpful and welcoming they appear. They can also give you advice on what type of company you should register. Most start-ups choose a limited company due to the limited liability enjoyed by the directors and shareholders if the business unfortunately fails. This protects their personal assets from claims by creditors. However, private limited company details and their annual financial accounts are published in the public domain, giving little privacy.

The relationship with your chosen formations agent will be a close one, and can last for years after your company registration if you choose to take advantage of their post incorporation services.

Even when you have decided on the formations agent you wish to work with, you must ensure that everything is ready for company registration.

Information you must have to hand includes the following:

  • Company name – this will need to be checked for exclusivity and compliance. Names containing offensive or sensitive words are not permissible, neither are names with implied connections to local or central government. If your company name has not been previously checked, have a few alternative names on hand. If the company is to be registered as a private limited company, remember it must be identified as either Limited or Ltd
  • Registered office – decide whether you are using your business or personal address for your registered office. If you wish to protect your privacy, you may be able to nominate your company formation agent’s address
  • Directors – ensure you and any other directors are not the subject of disqualification from acting as a company director or are under 16 years of age. Include names, addresses, postcodes and other required details, similarly with any shareholders. If they hold shares, these must be declared
  • Company secretary – this is an optional position, but if you have one, details must be provided
  • It is sensible to register a domain name at the time of registration. This will ensure that your new business is prepared for internet utilisation
  • Share Capital details must be provided.

When your chosen agent has checked all the details for compliance, they will complete the company registration for you. This can typically be accomplished within a few hours. On receipt of the electronic Certificate of Incorporation, you are ready to start trading and can look forward to working towards a successful and profitable business. Visit for the latest business news and advice or for more information on current business issues,.

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