Knowledge base
London Chamber
Knowledge base
Company Registration In the UK

The United Kingdom made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – the birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential center of finance and culture.

The United Kingdom has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal gross domestic product (GDP), and the tenth-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It has a high-income economy and a very high human development index rating, ranking 13th in the world. The UK became the world's first industrialized country and was the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today the UK remains one of the world's great powers, with considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific, technological, and political influence internationally. It is a recognized nuclear state and is ranked sixth globally in military expenditure. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.

The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the United NationsNATO, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Interpol, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It was a member state of the European Communities (EC) and its successor, the European Union (EU), from its accession in 1973 until its withdrawal in 2020 following a referendum held in 2016.




Starting a company: detailed information

You’ll need at least 3 pieces of personal information about yourself and your shareholders or guarantors, for example:


You’ll need to create a Government Gateway user ID and password for your company when you register it. You cannot use your personal Government Gateway ID.

Other ways to register

You can also register:

·         by post

·         using an agent

·         using third-party software


You’ll also need to register for Corporation Tax within 3 months of starting to do business.


Choose a company structure that suits your needs

1.Private Limited Company

This is by far the most popular type of company registered in the UK and is commonly known as a limited company. It is set up for the purpose of making a profit and has the added benefit of limited liability protection of personal assets.

A limited company is a company ‘limited by shares’ or ‘limited by guarantee.

Limited by shares

Limited by shares companies are usually businesses that make a profit. This means the company:

·         is legally separate from the people who run it

·         has separate finances from your personal ones

·         has shares and shareholders

·         can keep any profits it makes after paying tax


Limited by guarantee

Limited by guarantee companies are usually ‘not for profit’. This means the company:

·         is legally separate from the people who run it

·         has separate finances from your personal ones

·         has guarantors and a ‘guaranteed amount’

·         invests profits it makes back into the company



Limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are increasing in popularity and are ideal for professionals and consultants who wish to retain the flexibility of a traditional partnership, but require the benefits of a limited liability company.


3.Guarantee Company

A limited by guarantee company is very much like a standard limited company; however, instead of shareholders, it has guarantors. This type of company is normally registered by non-profit organizations such as clubs and charities.


Setting up or expanding your business in the UK is straightforward. You can choose how your company operates.

If you want to incorporate a company as a separate legal entity in the UK, forming a private limited company is the most popular option.

You can also incorporate a company as a sole trader (in which you have all liability for company debts) or a partnership (where you share the liability with other partners in the business).


Setting up a limited company is easy.

It could not be easier to set up a limited company or LLP with Rapid Formations. To start the company registration process, simply enter your company name into our name check tool, select a package (£12.99) and add any address services you may require, check out and take 5 minutes to complete your details. Your new company will usually be approved in 3 to 6 working hours; however, this timescale is subject to Companies House workload and it may take longer.


Step by step

1. Choose a Company Structure

When most entrepreneurs register a UK company, they opt for what’s called a ‘private company limited by shares.

This business structure can be an effective way of managing your tax. For instance, as a company director, you can draw some of your income from the company dividends, thereby paying less in income tax.

Another benefit is that your personal assets – such as your house and car – shouldn’t be at risk if the company gets into financial trouble. This is what’s meant by the term ‘limited liability’.


2. Register a Company Name (UK)

Before you register a company in the UK, you need to check that your company’s name is available.

Top tips when choosing a company name:

·         Research the market that you’ll be operating in – the names of your competitor companies should provide inspiration when choosing your own.

·         Pick a name that’s meaningful – your company name will be the first thing people learn about your business, so does it explain what you do?

·         Keep the name short – a punchy company name will be easier to remember and it will look better on marketing material.

·         Avoid company names that are hard to spell – and make sure it rolls easily off the tongue.

·         3. Select a Company Formation Package

With our company formation packages, you can register a UK company quickly and simply. There are four packages to choose from:

·         E-Formation (£9.99): perfect if you want to register a company name (UK) and don’t need any official printed documents.

·         Essential (£19.99): offers you complete confidence that you can register a company in the UK with the rules and regulations covered.

·         Entrepreneur (£59.99): kick-start your next big venture with official compliance and additional documents of incorporation.

·         Super (£89.99): the complete secretarial and compliance package to establish your company on a robust footing.

·         Best of all, when you sign up for one of our company formation packages, we pay the £12 Companies House filing fee for you!

4. Enter Your Company Information

When you register a UK company, much of the information you provide will be made publically available. Companies House will want details of your:

·         Registered office – this is the address where Companies House and HMRC will send mail. It must be in the UK and it must be possible to reach the company directors at the address.

·         Company directors – your company must have at least one director. Companies House will want to know their name, date of birth, and residential address.

·         Shareholders – every company must have at least one shareholder, but it can be the same person as the director. Companies House will want to know their name, date of birth, and residential address.

If you don’t have a separate address for your business, you should use your home address to register a UK company. But if you aren’t comfortable with your home address being made public, we offer a Registered Agent Service which lets you register your business at our Central London location.

5. Allocate Company Shares

When you register a company in the UK, you’ll need to allocate shares to your shareholder(s). The simplest way is to allocate one share to each shareholder and make each individual share worth £1


6. Complete the Memorandum and Articles of Association

These documents formalize how your company will be run. They need to be agreed on and signed by the company director(s), shareholder(s), and secretary before you register a UK limited company.


7. Submit Everything to Companies House

For same-day registration, submit your application by 3 pm. And that’s it – good luck with your new business!


What details do I need to set up a company?

To form a limited company, you simply need a company name, the business activity of the company, a registered office address in the UK, and the details of the company directors, shareholders, and People with Significant Control (PSC). The beneficial owners of the company, those owning more than 25% of the issued shares, may also be required to provide proof of ID and address. For more information, please have a look at our Required Information Checklist.

Do I need a business bank account?

The UK’s leading FinTechs have made accessing UK business banking services easier for international entrepreneurs and businesses, whatever their size.

Although not a full solution, these products enable international businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate their UK entry, fulfill their compliance requirements with HMRC and pay and receive funds.

There is a growing range of these business accounts available, and the preferred options will come down to your specific business needs.

In addition, Banks are required by law to carry out Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks before offering you a business bank account. Some banks may also not accept certain businesses for their own reasons.

This means that although there is a range of different account solutions available, some will be more appropriate than others.

The UK government works with many of the 250+ international banks in the UK. Contact us for free advice on which bank might be the best match for your new UK business.

Opening a UK business bank account

Every bank has a slightly different process for opening a business account. In most cases you will need to have:

·         a UK business address

·         a company representative living in the UK (usually a director or an employee), who will be an account signatory

·         a UK business plan showing why you need a UK business bank account

·         a clear identification of all parties who own more than 10% of the business


Register a UK branch of an overseas company

By registering a branch of your company in the UK, your company does not create a separate legal entity. Instead, it registers your company to do business in the UK.

A branch does not get the limited liability benefits of a UK limited company.

It takes longer to register a UK branch of an overseas company than registering a limited liability company because your company must submit documents and information to Companies House. It can take 4 weeks for these to be reviewed.


UK tax and incentives

A clear tax system

We have a single company tax that’s transparent and applied consistently. Any company resident in the UK must pay UK Corporation Tax on company profits. Any overseas company with a UK branch or office must pay UK Corporation Tax on company profits arising in the UK.

A competitive tax system

The current Corporation Tax rate is 19%, the lowest in the G20.

The UK does not have a withholding tax on dividends paid by UK companies to shareholders in another country.

A fair tax system

In the UK, the rule of law is respected. Our tax system is fair and tax is expected to be paid. We meet all international tax standards and work with the OECD to counter tax avoidance.

Find a UK tax accountant or get regulation support

Tax reliefs and incentives

The UK offers attractive venture capital schemes to help small and medium enterprises expand.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Venture Capital Trusts offer tax relief for individuals interested in investing in UK small businesses.

There are generous incentives for companies investing in research and development in the UK to promote fast-growing, innovative services and products, such as the R&D Expenditure Tax Credit.

In addition, the Patent Box offers a 10% corporation tax (compared to the usual 19%) on profits from inventions patented in the UK.


What if I change my mind and don’t need the company?

Approximately half a million companies registered in the UK are dissolved (shut down) every year at Companies House, so if you decide you no longer need your company and want to shut it down, there is no need to worry – it happens fairly often! Rapid Formations can dissolve your company hassle-free, at a cost of only £49.99 plus VAT. Find out more and order our Company Dissolution Service.