Thinking of setting up a new business?

You must first choose a structure for your business. There are three main types of business: (1) sole trader; (2) limited company; and, (3) business partnership. You can change your business structure after you’ve started up if you find a new structure suits you better.

Limited Company

To set up a private limited company you need to register with Companies House. This is known as ‘incorporation’. You need:

  • a company name - there are rules on what it can and can’t include
  • an address for the company
  • at least one director
  • at least one shareholder
  • the agreement of all initial shareholders (‘subscribers’) to create the company - known as a ‘memorandum of association’
  • details of the company’s shares and the rights attached to them - known as a ‘statement of capital’
  • written rules about how the company is run - known as ‘articles of association’
  • Once the company is registered you’ll get a ‘Certificate of Incorporation’. This confirms the company legally exists and shows the company number and date of formation.

Register for Corporation Tax

Your company will then need to register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for Corporation Tax within 3 months of starting to do business.

Registered Office Address

Your registered office address is where official communications will be sent, eg letters from Companies House and HMRC.

The address must be a physical address in the same country your company is registered in, eg a company registered in England and Wales must have a registered address in one of these two nations. You can use a PO Box but must include a physical address and postcode after the PO Box number.

Alternatively, you can use your home address. Your company address will be publicly available on the register.

Appoint directors

Your company must have at least one director. Directors are legally responsible for running the company and making sure company accounts and reports are done properly.

A director must be 16 or over and not be disqualified from being a director.

Another company can be a director, but at least one of your company’s directors must be a person.

Directors’ names and addresses are publicly available from Companies House.