It is incredibly quick and easy to perform a company check on any UK company or limited liability partnership. In order to trade as a company, a business must register with Companies House and file certain information about its activities and finances, as well as details of the people who control it.
All of this information is then placed on the official UK register of companies and made available to the public via the Companies House Service (formerly known as Beta) and WebCHeck. Most of this information is also free to access.
What company information can I check?
It is a legal requirement of UK-registered companies and LLPs to file certain details during and after the company formation process. If you want to find out more about a particular company, you can access the following details using the Companies House Service and/or WebCHeck:
- Date of company incorporation.
- Registered office address.
- Information about current company officers (i.e. directors and secretaries or LLP members) – name, date of birth, contact address, nationality, occupation, and date of appointment.
- Details of company shareholders, guarantors, or LLP members.
- Information about People with Significant Control (PSCs) – name, date of birth, contact address, and the nature of each PSCs control in the company.
- Resigned company officers.
- Details of disqualified company directors.
- Director’s appointments held in other companies
- Nature of the company’s business activities.
- Previous company names.
- Annual financial accounts (also known as ‘statutory accounts’).
- Confirmation statement (previously known as an ‘annual return’).
- Statutory filing deadlines for next accounts and confirmation statement.
- Mortgage charges.
- Company status (i.e. active, dormant, or dissolved).
- Scanned images of company documents, including the certificate of incorporation, annual accounts, confirmation statements, and change of officer details.
At present, Companies House holds more than 170 million digital records. Having access to this information is invaluable, especially if you are considering doing business with a company and want to check that it is legitimate, trustworthy and solvent.
Why would I perform a company check?
Whether you are a business owner, an investor, a supplier or consumer, there are numerous occasions when it may be sensible or necessary to exercise due diligence before doing business with a particular company. By performing a company check, you can:
- Find out if a company is genuine.
- Analyse the financial status of a company before investing, lending, providing services, or buying the business.
- Research a business before applying for a job vacancy or accepting a job offer.
- Determine how long a company has been trading before using its services or buying its products.
- Verify who owns, controls, and runs the business.
- Check whether the company is up to date with its accounts and other filing obligations.
- Establish the location of a company’s registered office.
- Gain a better understanding of how a business is performing.
- Find out if a company is in good standing and whether it is being managed efficiently and responsibly – Are accounts and confirmation statements being filed on time? Are any filings currently outstanding? Is there any mention of administration or insolvency? Has there been a high number of director resignations?
In addition to checking information about a company via Companies House, you may wish to do a general internet search for customer feedback, articles and industry reviews of services or products, social media posts, and any news reports about the company or the people associated with it. This will enable you to gain a better understanding of the company that you are curious about.
Using Companies House Service
Launched in 2015 as Companies House Beta service, this online facility is now simply called Companies House Service. It is very easy to use, completely free of charge, and allows you to search over 3 million companies on the UK register at the click of a button.
To perform a company check, simply:
- Enter the company name, unique company registration number, or name of a company officer into the search bar on the Companies House Service homepage.
- Select the name of the company or officer that you want information about.
- Click on any blue highlighted text for more information about the company.
You can also choose to monitor, or ‘follow’, a company by registering your details through the Service. By doing so, you will receive free email alerts when the company files new information or changes any of its registered details.
Using Companies House WebCHeck service
Companies House WebCheck provides much of the free information that is available on the newer Companies House Service. Furthermore, it can be used to view a company’s filing history and also purchase copies of filed document images and company reports – including current officer appointments, mortgage statements, and company records.
To purchase company documents and reports through WebCHeck, you simply need to register a password and email address online. Companies House will then contact you when your requested documents are available to access and download securely.
Please be aware, however, that the WebCHeck facility is being phased out to be fully replaced by the Companies House Service. The exact timetable for the winding down of this service is not yet known, but we will keep our customers and readers up to date on this matter by providing further information as and when it becomes available from Companies House.