The first thing to happen after you set up a company is that Companies House will issue a Certificate of Incorporation to verify the successful registration of your new company. This will be delivered to you by email or post, depending on whether you decide to set up a company through a formation agent or directly at Companies House.
If you register a company online with Quality Company Formations, you will receive your Certificate of Incorporation, together with your memorandum and articles of association, by email as soon as your incorporation is approved (usually within 3 to 6 working hours of submitting an application). We will also send you your company’s registers with first entries, plus share certificates if your company is limited by shares.
Upon receipt of your incorporation documents, your company is ready to start trading and is listed as ‘active’ on the public register of companies. At this point, there are several steps you should take to ensure your company gets off to a good start and remains compliant.
Arrange first board meeting of company directors
Whilst not a legal requirement for private companies, it is good practice to hold a first board meeting of the company directors to discuss formalities and consider important issues affecting the new business. Items on the agenda may include:
- Confirming who the directors are
- Confirming who the subscribers (first shareholders) as listed on the memorandum of association are
- Maintaining statutory company registers
- Opening a business bank account
- Registering the company for taxes
- Accounting and reporting requirements
- Appointing an accountant
- Company websites and stationery
- Company finances, including budgets, operating costs, salaries, and dividends
- Marketing proposals and strategies
- Confirming duties and responsibilities of each director
Even if you’re the sole director, a first board meeting is an opportunity to ensure everything is in place and that you’re aware of the steps required to run your company successfully and in accordance with company law. Most of the time, this board meeting is simply a formality that needs to be signed off by the directors.
If you do hold a first board meeting, section 248 of the Companies Act 2006 requires that minutes of all proceedings at the meeting, and all future board meetings, are recorded and kept for at least 10 years. You should store these with the rest of your company’s records (including your company’s statutory registers) at the company’s registered office or SAIL address (if applicable).
If you form your company through us and choose either our Print, Privacy, or Fully Inclusive Packages, we’ll provide you with a completed set of minutes for your first board meeting for you to sign once your company has been registered.
Open a business bank account
Ideally, you should open a business bank account in your company name before you start trading, rather than using your personal bank account for company related transactions. That way, you can easily monitor and trace all business expenditure and income. It will also make life much easier when you prepare your annual accounts and tax returns.
There is no legal requirement to set up a business bank account for your company, but it’s worth remembering that companies exist as separate legal entities. This means all business income (and debts) belongs to the company, not you. Running a company is not the same as operating as a sole trader, where business finances and personal finances are simply treated as one.
Customers who form their company through Quality Company Formations can pick up a business bank account through one of our banking partners, including Barclays, Anna, Countingup and TSB. For more information on these bank accounts, call our Customer Service Team on 020 3908 0044 or send us an email at email@example.com.
Get a company UTR number
A company UTR is 10-digit Unique Tax Reference issued by HMRC. It is used to identify your business for Corporation Tax purposes, so you will need this number to register for Corporation Tax, file accounts and tax returns with HMRC, and pay any business tax that you owe.
You don’t need to apply for a UTR. After you set up a company, HMRC is automatically notified by Companies House. Then, within around 14 days of incorporation, HMRC will send a letter to your registered office address. It will state your company’s Unique Tax Reference (UTR) and provide information on what you need to do next in terms of tax registration and reporting requirements.
You should keep this code in a safe place, together with the rest of your company’s documents. If, however, you misplace your code, you can request a reminder letter by calling HMRC’s Corporation Tax line on 0300 200 3410 or when calling from abroad +44 (0)151 268 0571.
Register with HMRC
In order to report your business income and pay tax, you will need to register your new company with HMRC. You must register for Corporation Tax online within 3 months of starting to trade (e.g., when your company starts buying or selling goods or services, employing staff, advertising, or renting a property). If your company will remain dormant, you will need to notify HMRC.
You may also need to register for VAT when the company’s turnover expects to exceed £85,000 (2023/24 threshold) within thirty days, and you must register for PAYE if the company has employees.
Quality Company Formations offers a VAT Registration Service and a PAYE Registration Service, which customers can purchase for just £39.99 and £19.99, respectively, at Checkout when forming a limited company through our website. Customers who have already formed their company can also purchase these services at any time through our online Shop. Simply login into your online account > Select ‘My Companies’ from the Customer Dashboard > Select your company from the list > Shop.
Know your company’s key filing dates
Limited companies have various filing and reporting requirements with strict deadlines. Directors of these companies are legally responsible for making sure the company meets these statutory obligations. The key filing dates that you need to be aware of are:
- Must be filed at Companies House every 12 months
- Deadline is the anniversary of company incorporation +14 days, or the anniversary of the previous confirmation statement +14 days
- Must be delivered to Companies House every year
- Deadline for first accounts is 21 months after date of company incorporation
- Deadline for subsequent accounts is 9 months after the company’s financial year end
Company Tax Return
- Must be delivered to HMRC every year, even if your company makes a loss or has no Corporation Tax to pay
- Statutory accounts must be included
- Deadline is 12 months after the end of the company’s ‘accounting period’ for Corporation Tax
Pay Corporation Tax
- To be paid to HMRC
- Deadline is 9 months and 1 day after the end of the company’s accounting period for Corporation Tax
Self Assessment Tax Return
- Usually required by directors, shareholders, and LLP members
- Self Assessment tax returns must be delivered to HMRC every year
- Deadline for online return is 31st January after the end of the tax year it applies to
- Deadline for paying the tax you owe is 31st January after the end of the tax year it applies to
If your company is dormant (not trading), you will only need to deliver confirmation statements and dormant company accounts to Companies House. You won’t have to send anything to HMRC; however, you will need to tell HMRC that your company is dormant for Corporation Tax purposes.
Where to find your filing deadlines
After you set up a company, both Companies House and HMRC will provide plenty of notice of all filing deadlines, either by post or email, but it’s always best to keep a note of them. You can view your HMRC filing deadlines by signing in to HMRC online services or by looking up your company details on Companies House Service. You can also sign up to receive eReminders from Companies House.
Quality Company Formations provides a free Online Company Manager. This facility, which is available to all UK companies including those that were not formed with us, will enable you to keep track of important deadlines and receive timely reminders, file confirmation statements, update company details, and report changes to Companies House.
Keep company and accounting records
You are legally required to keep a number of registers and records about your company and its finances, including statutory company registers and accounting records.
Statutory company registers
Your company’s officers have a legal responsibility to maintain statutory company registers at its registered office, Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL) address, or at Companies House. The registers you need to keep are:
- Register of members (i.e., shareholders or guarantors)
- Register of directors
- Register of directors’ usual residential addresses
- Register of company secretaries (if one is appointed)
- Register of People with Significant Control
- Register of charges
These registers contain important information about the people who own, control and manage the company. They must be accurate and up to date, and you must ensure they are available to the public upon request.
Many companies choose to keep hard copies of their statutory registers together in a loose-leaf register, although digital copies are acceptable, provided they can be produced whenever required.
You are duty bound to keep various accounting records to show the financial position of the company at any given time. These records are also essential for the preparation of annual accounts and tax returns. The accounting records you keep will include details of:
- All money spent and received
- Assets owned by the business
- Debts owed by or to the company
- Stock owned by the company at the end of each financial year
- Stock takings that were used to work out the stock figure
- All goods and services bought and sold
- Who goods and services were bought from and sold to (unless your company is a retail business)
Additional financial records and information that you must keep to support your accounting records include receipts, invoices, orders and delivery notes, petty cash books, sales books, till rolls, pay-in slips, bank statements, and any other relevant documents that relate to the company’s finances.
You will need to retain all financial and accounting records for a period of at least 6 years from the end of the financial year to which they relate. It is good practice, however, to keep records for longer than the minimum statutory requirement.
We would advise appointing an accountant to help you with your responsibilities. However, if you would rather take care of these tasks yourself, online accounting and bookkeeping software can make it much easier to keep your records in order and manage your company finances.
Appoint an accountant
Whilst there is no legal requirement to appoint an accountant, it is often worthwhile if you trade through a company because your record keeping and accounting tasks may be complex and time consuming.
By using an accountant, you will greatly reduce the risk of making mistakes, you will receive expert business and tax saving advice that could potentially offset your accountancy fees, and you will save an incredible amount of time that could otherwise be spent making your business more successful.
The best thing to do is to set up a free initial consultation with one or more reputable accountants to find out what they can do for you and your business.
Get business insurance
The type(s) of business insurance that you will need will depend on what your company does, but there are potential risks associated with running any type of business. Sometimes the unexpected happens, so it is always best to protect yourself and your company against losses should anything go wrong.
The most common types of business insurance include:
- Public Liability Insurance
- Professional Indemnity Insurance
- Employers’ Liability Insurance
- Product Liability Insurance
- Buildings and/or Contents insurance
- Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance
- Income Protection Insurance
If you find you require multiple types of business insurance, it may be worthwhile getting a comprehensive commercial policy that is tailored to the needs of your company, rather than purchasing individual policies for different types of insurance.
Access business support
Many new businesses are unaware of the great deal of support that is available to them, or they try to do everything on their own, which is unnecessarily challenging! Whether you need help to create a business plan, guidance on funding, or even advice on how to market and grow your company internationally, there are many free government schemes and independent organisations that you can contact for expert business advice and support in your local area and beyond.
Set up a website
Having an online presence is a vital part of running and growing a modern business, even if you don’t sell products online. Potential customers will look to the Internet to search for local services and research your company, so you need to make sure your business is visible and that your website is well designed, informative, and reflects your company values.
As part of the setup of a website, you will need a domain name. This will be the name of your website (e.g., www.yourdomainname.co.uk), so you should ideally choose a domain name that matches your company name. By doing so, it will be easier for people to find your business online. All of our incorporation packages come with a free .com or .co.uk domain name, free for one year, giving you a head start in getting your website up and running.
Display company details
You will need to display the name of your company at your registered office address and any other place where your business operates unless you run your company from home.
Your company name must also be included on official business stationery (i.e., company documents, letters, publicity material, emails, and websites), and you should show the company registration number and registered office address on business letters, order forms, and websites.
If you have registered for VAT, then your VAT registration number requires being displayed on your company’s invoices, stationery, and websites.
Report company changes
Directors have a duty to notify Companies House and HMRC if certain company details change. This ensures the public register is always accurate and up to date and that official correspondence can be delivered to the company.
For example, you must inform Companies House within 14 days if there are any changes to the registered office or SAIL address, the location of company registers, or information about company officers or PSCs. If you issue more shares, Companies House should be notified within one month.
If you require assistance with reporting your changes to Companies House, speak to our Company Secretarial Team today by calling 0203 984 5389 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.