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Company formation is the process of legally incorporating and registering a limited company with Companies House. This can be done in as little as 3 hours by completing and filing an online application form. Upon incorporation under the Companies Act 2006, a limited company becomes an individual legal entity that is completely distinct from its owners and responsible for its own finances and liabilities. A limited company can therefore enter into contracts in its own name, take ownership of its assets, and provide financial protection to its owners in the form of limited liability.
Companies House is the registrar of companies in the United Kingdom, and it operates in three jurisdictions: England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. It is an executive government agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and its primary functions are:
Limited liability is one of the most significant benefits of company formation. It provides financial protection to company shareholders, company guarantors and LLP members. Because the law views limited companies as distinct legal entities, their owners are only responsible for business debts up to the amount of money they invest in the company through shares, or agree to pay in the form of a guarantee. Any liabilities beyond these sums are the responsibility of the limited company alone. Without such a safety net, company owners risk losing their personal assets and finances as a result of business debts and claims.
The incorporation process is surprisingly quick, straightforward and affordable. There are three ways in which a company can be registered: online or by post directly with Companies House, or online through a professional company registration agent like Quality Company Formations. The latter option is by far the most popular because of its quickness, simplicity, low cost, and efficacy. Additionally, expert advice and assistance is on-hand throughout the entire process.
To register a new company through an authorised agent, an online application form must be completed.
The following information is required to register a private company limited by shares or guarantee:
The following information is required to incorporate an LLP:
The ability to upload and file documents electronically is one of the many advantages of registering and managing your company online through Filing Software.
If you decide to adopt model articles in their entirety, you will simply be required to check the appropriate box on the online application to notify Companies House. There is no need to attach these articles because you are not altering the statutory version.
If you choose not to adopt model articles in their entirety, you will be required to download the model articles, make the necessary alterations, upload the document as altered and attach it to your online application. Similarly, entirely bespoke articles will have to be uploaded and attached to your application.
Companies House will display your articles on the public register of companies along with the rest of your company’s details.
You will also be required to upload supporting documentation if your proposed company name contains any ‘sensitive’ words and expressions - visit our company name guidance section for detailed information.
When you are ready to send your online application to Companies House, check it carefully to ensure you have included all the relevant information, entered the details accurately, indicated the articles you wish to use, and uploaded any required additional documentation. When you are satisfied with your application, simply click ‘SUBMIT’.
Your registration form will be thoroughly examined by one of our specialist agents, before being electronically submitted to Companies House through a secure filing system. Applications are then checked by Companies House and, all being well, approved within 3 working hours. You will be issued with digital copies of your incorporation documents as soon as this happens, and you can start trading whenever you like.
All of the information provided on the application form will be placed on the official register of companies. This is available to all members of the general public. Residential address details will remain on a private register at Companies House, unless such an address is used as a registered office or service address.
When your company has been successfully incorporated, your next step will be to register with HMRC for the appropriate business and/or personal taxes. Visit our HMRC guidance section for detailed information.
Companies House issues a certificate of incorporation to all limited companies and LLPs to prove their legal existence and incorporation under the Companies Act 2006. Quality Company Formations will provide you with a digital version of this certificate by email immediately upon company formation. Some of our formation packages also include a paper certificate which will be posted to your registered office.
The certificate of incorporation will include the following details:
If you register a limited company, you will also receive a digital copy of the memorandum and articles of association. You must keep digital or printed copies of these documents at your registered office or SAIL address for inspection purposes. You will also be required to refer to the articles on a number of occasions to ensure your company adheres to company law.
Digital share certificates will be issued to companies limited by shares. Again, you may receive paper copies of these documents, depending on your chosen company formation package. Each shareholder must be given a copy of his or her signed share certificate as evidence of their shareholdings in the company. Copies should also be kept at the registered office or SAIL address with your company’s statutory records.
Each share certificate will contain the following details:
You must ensure the safekeeping of these incorporation documents, as they contain important information that you will need to refer to on a regular basis. You will be expected to provide copies of these documents to banks, lenders and investors in a number of situations.
If you register an LLP, you will receive a draft LLP Agreement that can be completed and returned to us by email. We strongly recommend the use of such a document to outline and clarify the rights and responsibilities of the partners. This will minimise the potential for confusion or disagreements during the course of business. You can easily change the particulars of the agreement at any time after incorporation, if need be.
Your statutory company register with first entries (as per the date of incorporation) will include the following documents, where applicable:
You will be required to update the statutory register throughout the life of your company when certain details change. It is important that these records are kept up-to-date at your registered office or SAIL address for inspection purposes.
Every now and then, a company formation application will be rejected by Companies House. This is usually the result of missing or inaccurate information. In the unlikely event that this happens, Companies House will inform you immediately and you will have the opportunity to address the error. You can then simply re-submit your amended application online on the very same day for no additional cost.