How to Get a Certificate of Incorporation From Companies House

Last Updated: May 13, 2024
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Key Takeaways

  • The certificate of incorporation serves as your company’s primary legal identification document, certifying its registration as a separate legal entity distinct from its owners.
  • It includes vital company information such as the registered name, registration number, incorporation date, type of company, and issuing registrar.
  • You can obtain a certificate of incorporation by incorporating your company online, by post, or through a company formation agent. Each method has its procedure and requirements.

What Is a Certificate of Incorporation?

A certificate of incorporation is a legal document that certifies and confirms that Companies House has duly registered a company as a separate and legal entity, distinct from its owners and shareholders. It shows that the company can trade, enter into contracts, sue, or be sued in its name.

You can get a certificate of incorporation by incorporating your company with Companies House online, by post, or through a company formation agent.

What does the term incorporation mean?

Incorporation is the process through which a new company becomes a legal entity with rights, responsibilities, and liabilities separate from its owners or shareholders. The incorporated business can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued in its name. It offers several benefits, such as limited liability protection, tax advantages, and access to capital by selling shares.

What company details can be found in a certificate of incorporation?

An incorporation certificate contains the following company information:

  • The registered company name;

  • Company registration number (CRN)

  • Company registration location (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland);

  • Date of incorporation;

  • Type of company (LLP, limited by shares, or by guarantee, etc.);

  • Issuing Registrar (Cardiff, Edinburgh or Belfast);

  • Legislation under which the company has been formed;

  • Registrar of Companies official seal (Companies House); and

  • A Royal Coat of Arms.

How to Get a Certificate of Incorporation From Companies House Your Company Formations
Sample Certificate of Incorporation.

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How long does it take to register a new company?

There are two main ways of forming a company via Companies House directly. Either online (£50) or by post (£71). New fees will take effect from 1st May 2024. While the application (form IN01) can be time-consuming, especially on paper, online applications are typically processed within 24 hours. Postal applications, on the other hand, may take 8 to 10 days to process.

Before you begin the registration process, prepare the following company details —

  • Details of the directors and secretaries of the company, noting their full names, date of birth, residential address, service address, nationality, and occupation.

  • Details of subscribers (shareholders and their shares);

  • Memorandum and articles of association;

  • 2 – 3 proposed company names; and

  • Registered office address.

Proposed directors and secretaries must meet the minimum age requirement of 16 years, not be bankrupt, or be disqualified by any government agency or court from acting as a company director.

Insight

If you intend to submit your application by post, download the relevant forms from the Companies House portal, complete them, and send them to the appropriate address as follows:

Registrar of Companies (England and Wales) Companies House, Crown Way, Cardiff CF14 3UZ, DX 33050, Cardiff

Registrar of Companies (Northern Ireland) Companies House, 2nd Floor The Linenhall, 32-38 Linenhall Street, Belfast BT2 8BG, DX481 N.R. Belfast 1.

Registrar of Companies (Scotland) Companies House, 4th Floor, Edinburgh Quay 2, 139 Fountainbridge Edinburgh, EH3 9FF, DX ED235 Edinburgh 1.

How to Register Your Company in the UK through a Company Formation Agent

You may leverage the expertise of a formations agent to incorporate your company rather than applying directly to Companies House. Formation agents are familiar with Companies House requirements and can handle the incorporation process efficiently and without delay.

Before diving into the company registration process, it’s essential to determine the most suitable business structure for your venture.

There are four main types of limited companies, each with unique characteristics tailored to different business needs as follows –

  • Private Limited Companies

    • Most common type of limited company in the UK.

    • Incorporated at Companies House under the Companies Act 2006.

    • Ownership is divided into shares held by shareholders, whose liability is typically limited to the amount paid (or due to be paid) for their shares.

    • Ideal for startups and solopreneurs both domestically and internationally.

  • Public Limited Companies

    • Also formed and regulated under the Companies Act 2006.

    • Offers shares to the general public, traded on the stock exchange.

    • Requires a minimum share capital of £50,000, with at least 25% of shares fully paid.

    • Ideal for high-impact ventures seeking substantial capital investment.

  • Company Limited by Guarantee

    • Formed under the Companies Act 2006.

    • Members’ liability is limited to a predetermined amount they agree to contribute if the company is wound up.

    • Often used for non-profit organisations, charities, and other entities without share capital.

    • Ideal for social enterprises or any venture seeking to work for the benefit of its members or society.

  • Limited Liability Partnerships Act

    • Formed and governed under the Limited Liability Partnerships Act 2000.

    • Combine traditional partnership and limited company features, allowing partners limited liability.

    • Ideal for professional service firms such as law and accounting practices.

Each type of limited company allows businesses to select the structure best suited to its goals, operations, and legal requirements

To obtain a certificate of incorporation in the UK through a formation agent, consider the following steps —

  1. Check the availability of your company name

    Use our company name check tool to ensure your desired name is available for registration. Review the rules and guidelines for choosing a company name Companies House will approve. Have at least 3 options in case your first choice is unavailable.

  2. Gather the relevant company information.

    Have with you the following details, which you will use while filling out the online form –

    Model articles and a memorandum of association are available for adoption to streamline the process.

  3. Pay the required fees and await confirmation.

    Once you’ve provided all necessary information, pay the required fees and await company registration confirmation.

    Ready to Launch?

    Embark on your entrepreneurial journey by forming your limited company today!

    You will get a digital copy of your certificate if you form your company with any of the above packages.

How can I get a copy of a certificate of incorporation?

If you incorporated your company with us, you can download a copy of your certificate of incorporation by logging in to your account, navigate to the ‘My Companies’ section, and click on your company. Next, click on the ‘Documents’ tab to download a PDF copy of the certificate. Our customers can access their company details and filings on our free Online Company Manager.

To get a hard copy of your certificate, click on the’ Shop’ tab after you’ve clicked on your company, add ‘Printed Certificate of Incorporation’ to your shopping cart, and proceed to checkout.

A copy of your certificate of incorporation can be downloaded through the Companies House service

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Find and Update company information service at https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/

  2. Enter your company name into the search box;

  3. Find your company from the list;

  4. Click “Filing history;”

  5. Scroll to the bottom and select “View PDF” next to Incorporation (you may have to navigate to the older pages to locate this), and;

  6. Download a digital copy of your certificate.

When will I need to use a certificate of incorporation?

While you may not need to produce the registration certificate regularly, different institutions may require you to submit a copy in several instances. For example, when

  • opening a bank account for your company

  • applying for a business loan

  • entering into contracts with other businesses

  • seeking business licenses or permits

The company’s certificate of incorporation is conclusive evidence that your business is registered at Companies House as a separate legal entity, distinct from its owners or founders.

When will I get a certificate of incorporation after the company’s formation?

You will receive your incorporation certificate once Companies House approves your application. When you submit an online application straight to Companies House or via a company formation agent, you’ll receive a direct email with your certificate of incorporation. If you send a postal application form to Companies House, they will post your certificate when your company is registered.

I have lost my certificate of incorporation – how do I get a replacement?

Incorporating through a company formation agent eliminates the risk of losing or misplacing your certificate because you can access a digital copy through your client portal. You can also get your digital certificate by searching for your company in the ‘find and update company information’ portal on the GOV.UK.

To get a printed certified copy of your certificate, call Companies House on 0303 1234 500. During the call, provide your company’s CRN (Company Registration Number). The standard service price is £15.00, and you’ll be sent a certificate of incorporation within four business days. If you require the certificate on the same day, a same-day service option is available at £50.00, provided you request it before 2 PM.

Do I need a new certificate of incorporation if I change my company name?

Yes. If you change the name of your company, you will receive a Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name via email. Besides the new company name, all other information such as the company registration number, and incorporation date will remain the same as the original certificate.

Do I need a certificate of incorporation to open a business bank account?

A certificate of incorporation is a compulsory requirement for limited liability companies seeking to open a business bank account. It serves as evidence of your company’s existence and legal status and banks require it to verify that your business is legitimate and compliant with regulatory requirements. Without it, they may hesitate to open a business bank account for your company due to concerns about identity verification and legal liability.

Read also: Best Business Bank Accounts for Small Businesses In the UK 2024

What is the fastest way to get your certificate of incorporation?

The fastest way to get your certificate of incorporation is by forming your limited company with Your Company Formations.

Our online application process has built in checks to help you avoid errors and rejections. It’s also designed to save you time and minimise the need to re-enter the same information multiple times.

For instance, if an individual holds positions as a director, shareholder, or PSC simultaneously, you only need to input their information once and check the relevant boxes for each role to which the same information applies

Can I apply for an incorporation certificate online through a formations company?

Yes. You have the option to apply for an incorporation certificate online either directly through Companies House or via a formations company. Our service offers a cost-effective and rapid solution, specifically designed to streamline the process of company formation, eliminating unnecessary complexities.

Do I need to set up a limited company to start an e-commerce business?

Yes. If you’re considering launching an e-commerce business, setting up a limited company is highly recommended, particularly for non-residents. It’s the optimal route to establish your presence and start selling to the lucrative UK customer base. With a limited company structure in place, you not only gain credibility and legal protection but also unlock a range of benefits that facilitate smooth operations and growth for your e-commerce venture.

Read to form a UK limited company?

Our international package makes it easy for non-residents to succeed. Let’s make your business dreams a reality!

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Committed to simplifying the complexities of starting and managing businesses, we share valuable insights and expertise to guide you through every step of the corporate journey. Our company formation services, seamlessly integrated with a company management platform, are designed to empower you to launch with confidence and manage your business all while ensuring strict adherence to HMRC and Companies House requirements. Trust us to be your partner in success.

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