Long gone are the days when you needed an accountant, a large sum of money, and the patience of a saint to incorporate a company. Today, it is possible to set up a limited company in the UK for less than £10.00 if you use the services of an online company formation agent. Better yet, your new company could be incorporated and ‘ready to trade’ on the very same day.
Company formation options and costs
There are three ways to set up a company in the UK, each of which carries a different price tag but all of which provide the same result – a UK company that is incorporated at Companies House under the Companies Act 2006. You can register using:
- a company formation agent
- an accountant
- the Companies House website
Option 1: Incorporate online through a company formation agent
Company formation agents are approved Companies House eFiling partners, providing fast, secure, and affordable online company incorporation and filing services. Using specialist software processes, company registration agents can deliver fast-tracked online incorporation services at very competitive prices.
At Quality Company Formations, we offer a wide range of popular and specialist incorporation packages, with prices starting at £14.99 for a ready-to-trade private company limited by shares. We also provide packages for registering private companies with multiple share classes, limited by guarantee and charity companies, public limited companies (PLCs), and LLPs.
Please see below just how much it costs to set up various UK company structures:
- Company limited by shares – basic package £14.99
- Company limited by shares – complete package (with address services) £89.99
- Company limited by shares – multiple share classes £29.99
- Company limited by guarantee – standard articles £29.99
- Company limited by guarantee – with bespoke articles £49.99
- Charity company – limited by guarantee £49.99
- Right to manage company – limited by guarantee £59.99
- Property management company – limited by shares £49.99
- Property management company – limited by guarantee £49.99
- Limited liability partnership – with partnership agreement £29.99
- Public limited company (plc) £149.99
More information on setting up the above company structures can be found on our package comparison page.
In general terms, it usually takes 3 to 6 working hours for Companies House to register a new company; however, this time period is subject to workload on the day and is by no means guaranteed. In some instances, it can take up to 24 hours, so if you are in a hurry to incorporate, we would recommend you purchase the guaranteed same day service – which most company formation agents offer.
Quality Company Formations include a Free Pre-Submission Review to check for any mistakes, and we will rectify and re-submit your application if it is rejected for any reason. You will also benefit from free, expert help and advice for the duration of your company’s existence, in addition to being able to manage your company’s reporting and filing requirements through our free Online Company Manager.
Option 2: Incorporate through an accountant
Prior to the Internet and emergence of company formation agents, an accountant was the standard route to incorporation. Everything was done on paper and via post, so it was very time-consuming.
Nowadays, very few people use accountants exclusively for this purpose, instead choosing the convenience, simplicity, and affordability of online company registration provided by a formation agent.
An accountant’s time is also expensive and a typical fee for company formation may be anything from £150.00 to £500.00.
Option 3: Incorporate directly with Companies House
Companies House provides online and postal incorporation services.
Online: It costs £12.00 to register a company online by completing Companies House application form IN01 using the Web Incorporation Service, with most applications processed within around 24-48 hours.
The online service can only be used to set up a private company limited by shares with model articles, which means that you cannot issue more than one class of share, use amended or bespoke articles, or register a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Postal: It is also possible to complete the IN01 application form on paper and submit it by post, which costs £40.00 and takes around 8-10 days.
It is worth noting that the number of company applications rejected by Companies House, due to errors and omissions in the IN01 form, is considerably higher for postal applications, than those presented online. The official stats show that 53% of postal applications are rejected, versus just 8% for online submissions.
Are there any additional costs?
There are no mandatory additional costs in setting up a company in the UK; however, there are 2 common optional extras which many people purchase.
The first is a registered office service which allows people to use an address other than their home on the public record, thereby protecting their privacy. A registered office service typically costs £30.00 to £50.00 per year.
The second popular extra is to purchase a service address from an address provider to maintain privacy. This generally costs £20.00 to £30.00 per year.
It is not expensive to set up a company in the UK. It is also a very simple and quick process.
Companies House online registration services are good, but not as simple and efficient as those available from company formation agents. The application forms are more complex and time-consuming to complete, the services are more expensive, online incorporation options are limited, and more time and effort is required to rectify and resubmit rejected applications.
Postal applications to Companies House can all too easily be rejected. It is also an expensive and time-consuming process, which we recommend avoiding.
Incorporating through an accountant is generally the most expensive option.
Forming through a formation agent provides the greatest flexibility, the quickest turnaround time, and most cost-effective solution.