Last Updated: Feb 16, 2023

2023 Guide: How to Obtain Your Certificate of Incorporation

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The thought of registering a company can conjure up images of relentless paperwork, merciless filing, and an infinite number of business documents. While a professional formations company can help with most of these things, it’s still important to understand the essential documents and certificates for your business, including the certificate of incorporation.

In this article, we’ll delve into the critical aspects of the certificate, including what it is, why every business needs one, and what information it typically contains. You will also find instructive information on how to go about obtaining one for your business and other significant numbers that are relevant to your business alongside your business registration number. 

What Is a Certificate of Incorporation?

A certificate of inc. is a legal document that certifies and confirms that Companies House has duly registered a company. The document affirms that the company exists 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.

Define Incorporation 

Incorporation is the legal process of forming a new corporation or company that becomes a legal entity separate from its owners or shareholders. A business becomes an independent legal entity with rights, responsibilities, and liabilities through incorporation. It can enter into contracts, own assets, and sue or be sued in its own name rather than the names of its owners. Incorporation offers several benefits, such as limited liability protection, tax advantages, and access to capital through the sale of shares.



A certificate of incorporation companies’ house confirms that a business is a duly registered entity.


The process involves filing legal documents with the appropriate state agency and meeting the requirements to establish the corporation’s structure, governance and ownership. It is an essential first step in starting a business.

Don’t let the complexities of business formation hold you back. Your Company Formations has a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs and business owners correctly set up businesses in the UK. From legal compliance to filing the required paperwork, call us today on 0207 689 7888 and schedule a free consultation with one of our agents.

What information does a certificate of incorporation state?

An incorporation certification contains the following company information:

  • Company’s registered name;
  • Company registration number (CRN) (find out about your CRN and how to locate it through a Companies House search here);
  • Company registration location (England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland);
  • Incorporation date;
  • Type of company (limited by shares, or by guarantee etc.);
  • Issuing Registrar (Cardiff, Edinburgh or Belfast);
  • Legislation under which the incorporation has been formed;
  • Registrar of Companies official seal (Companies House); and
  • A royal Coat of Arms.

See the sample certificate below for your information and review.

2023 Guide: How to Obtain Your Certificate of Incorporation Your Company Formations


As the company evolves and grows, the information in the incorporation certificate may change. To update the information in the certificate, a company must complete and submit appropriate forms and fees to Companies House for the registrar to review, approve, and reflect changes in its official records.


Where and When Do I Get a Certificate of Incorporation?

Starting a new business is an exciting but complex process. One of the most important first steps is getting registration credentials. In the UK, Companies House, the official registrar of companies, issues a certificate to confirm the registration of a company. You can get the certificate by either applying online or post through Companies House or a company formations agent by following the comprehensive step-by-step guide below. 

How to Apply for an Incorporation Certificate Through Companies House

If you seek a certificate of incorporation for a private limited company, apply through the Companies House Web Incorporation Services by following the steps below. 

STEP 1 – Gather the appropriate information.

The first step is to gather the appropriate information, which includes – 

  • 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
  • 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.


STEP 2 – Register for the web incorporation service. 

Once you have the appropriate documentation, register for the web incorporation service at Companies House. All you need is your email address and a password. 

STEP 3 – Complete online application forms.

Complete the online application form with the correct information, including the proposed company name, office address, directors’ details and other relevant information. 

STEP 4 – Pay the fee and receive confirmation. 

Pay the fee using your debit or credit card. Once your application is received and reviewed, you will receive an email informing you if it was accepted or rejected. 



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.


Incorporation Certificate Formation Agent Application Process. 

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

Ready to start your dream business? Let us help you make it a reality! Secure our company formation services today!

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

STEP 1 – Gather the relevant company incorporation documents. 

Provide the formation agent with the required documents, which will include the following – 

  • Proposed company name (s); 
  • Registered office address; 
  • Details of directors and secretaries of the company; and
  • Details of shareholders and their shares.



A formations agent can customise your articles and memorandum of association to ensure they reflect your company’s needs and provide greater control over the internal management of the company.


  • Pay the required fees and wait for confirmation. 

Select a viable page according to the formation agent’s service offering, pay the fee and wait to receive a confirmation of incorporation. 

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

If you incorporated your company through Your Company Formations, log 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 your certificate. You may also contact us, and one of our agents will be available to retrieve the document for you. 

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

A copy of the certificate can be downloaded through Companies House Service (formerly known as Companies House BETA). Simply follow these steps:

  1. Visit Companies House Service:;
  2. Enter your company name into the search box;
  3. Select your company in the search results;
  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. Find your certificate on page one of the PDF.



Obtain a printed certified copy of your companies house certificate of incorporation by contacting their contact centre at +44 (0)303 1234 500. During the call, provide the desired company’s CRN (Company Registration Number). The standard service price is £15.00, and they deliver 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.


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 you’re opening a bank account for your company, applying for a business loan, entering into contracts with other businesses, or seeking business licenses or permits, you may be asked to produce it as proof of your company’s legal existence.

In addition to these practical applications, the registration certificate also has symbolic significance. It signifies that the government official recognises your business as a separate legal entity, distinct from its owners or founders. This recognition is an essential step in the growth and development of your business and can give you and your stakeholders a sense of legitimacy and credibility.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep your certificate of registration in a safe and easily accessible place to ensure that you can produce it when needed. You may consider making copies of the certificate and keeping them in multiple secure locations, such as a safe or a digital cloud storage service, to prevent loss or damage.

When Will I Receive My Certificate of Incorporation?

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

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

Enlisting the help of a company formation agent can significantly reduce the risk of misplacing, or being unable to retrieve, essential documents such as your registration document. 

You can access the digital version of your certificate by logging into your online account on your formation agent website or signing in to Companies House Web Filing. If you find it difficult to retrieve your digital certificate, simply phone or mail either requesting a replacement. You will need to provide your company’s name and registration number.

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

You’ll need to apply to Companies House for an updated certificate if you change your company name. Besides the new company name, all other information stated on the new certificate will remain the same as the original, such as the company registration number and incorporation date. You must keep copies of your initial and new certificates at your company’s registered office address.



You’ll be inundated with several documents and numbers during your company formation. Be sure to keep track of each by using an efficient filing system.


As a business owner, government agencies will issue various identifying numbers associated with your company. It is essential that you are able to differentiate them from your registration number to avoid confusion or errors in the official documentation. Such numbers are —

  • unique taxpayer reference (UTR): issued by HMRC, comprised of 10 digits (e.g. 0123456789) and is used to identify a company for tax-related purposes.
  • Company Registration Number: issued by Companies House during registration (eight digits)
  • VAT number: issued by HMRC for companies registered for Value Added Tax. This number contains nine digits, with the “GB” prefix (e.g. GB123456789)
  • Employer reference number: issued by HMRC when employers register to implement PAYE (Pay As You Earn) for their employees. The first part of the reference consists of three digits, identifying the tax office that deals with the appropriate PAYE. The second part follows a forward slash and identifies the tax office’s employer reference (e.g. 123/AB456).



Although the above are all independent numbers, terms such as “certificate of incorporation,” “employment reference number,” and “company registration number” may often confuse. To avoid errors, refer to the above points now and again and be on your way to running a stress-free enterprise!


Frequently Asked Questions

Who provides registration certificates to the company

A registration certificate is issued by Companies House, the official registrar of companies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Other relevant responsibilities include — 

  • Incorporating and dissolving limited companies; or
  • Examining and storing company information registered under the Companies Act. 

A company incorporated by royal charter is called?

A company incorporated by royal charter is called a Royal Chartered Company. The monarch or British government uses a royal charter, a formal document which creates a corporation or other legal entity and sets out its purpose, governance structure, and other details. Royal charters have a long history in the United Kingdom and were originally used to create institutions such as universities, hospitals, and professional associations.

While incorporating a company by royal charter is rare and involves significant scrutiny and public consultation, it is still a legally recognised way to establish a new organisation with unique privileges and responsibilities. 

Today, companies may also be incorporated by royal charter if they serve an essential public or charitable purpose, such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

Can I apply for an incorporation certificate online?

Yes. You can order a certificate of incorporation UK online through Companies House, the government agency responsible for company registrations. The online service is called “Web Incorporation Service” and allows you to form a limited company using a standard memorandum and articles of association. However, there are eligibility requirements and fees associated with the application.

Describe the procedures of incorporation of public limited company in the united kingdom. 

The process of incorporating a publicly limited company is similar to that of a private limited company. However, the governance structure and ongoing legal and regulatory requirements will differ after registering and getting a certificate of incorporation. For instance — 

  • Shareholders — A private company is limited to a maximum of 50 shareholders, while a public company has no limit on the number of shareholders it can have. Public limited companies can offer shares to the general public through a stock exchange, while private companies cannot.
  • Governance — Public companies typically have more formal governance structures, such as a board of directors and various committees, to oversee the company’s operations and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Private companies may also have a more informal governance structure, such as a small group of shareholders who make decisions and manage the company.
  • Regulatory requirements —- Public companies are subject to more regulatory requirements than private companies. For example, they may be required to comply with securities laws and regulations and may be subject to more rigorous auditing and reporting standards.

Contact our dedicated company formations team for fast, friendly, and professional support if you want help incorporating your company or retrieving your certificate of incorporation.

Article by

Jody Smith

A content and media expert, I have worked for 7 years alongside start-ups and small businesses to effectively promote their brands through blogs, social media and content marketing strategies.

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