All UK limited companies need to be registered at Companies House, this is the only way to obtain a company number and be legally recognised as a limited company.
Although the process for registering is relatively straightforward, there are a number of minimum requirements you will need to meet and certain information that must be provided in order for your registration to be successful.
The main requirements are that your chosen company name is not already in use or too similar to an existing company name and it should not contain any sensitive or offensive words. You must also be able provide a UK-based address that can be used as the registered office and you will need to appoint at least one director to run the company.
You’ll also need at least one shareholder, who could be the same person as the director, and you’ll need to allocate them at least one share. The directors and shareholders do not need to be based in the UK.
In addition to these, you will also need to provide a memorandum of association. This is a document, usually only one page in length, which sets out who the initial shareholders will be and confirms their intention to take shares in the company as well as confirming the name of the proposed company.
This is then attached with the articles of association which is a much more detailed document that every limited company is required to have. It takes the form of a rulebook and binds all of the members of the company in to following the correct procedures as set out in the Companies Act.
There are templates that can be used for the memorandum and articles of association, or, if you choose to use a company formation agent, this document will be created and submitted on your behalf, without you needing to provide any extra details. However, you should be aware that if you decide to make any changes to your articles of association in the future, you MUST notify Companies House.
Once all of this information has been prepared, it will need to be submitted to Companies House as a request to form a company. Each request is then manually reviewed by staff at Companies House and a decision made whether to accept or reject the application.
If your application is rejected, you’ll be able to apply again without incurring any additional fees.
One common reason for failure is that the company name chosen is too similar to an existing one or contains sensitive words. In either case an application can still sometimes be successful if it is submitted with an additional statement from the company or organisation concerned, confirming that they give you permission to register a company by that name.
Once your application has been accepted you’ll receive a company registration number and certificate which will need to be kept safe. Your company name, registration number and registered office address must then be shown on all official documents the company produces.