Last Updated: Apr 12, 2024

Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register

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Key Highlights

  • Companies House was established by the Companies Act 2006 under the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. The agency serves as the official registrar of businesses in the UK and is responsible for regulating, incorporating, and dissolving UK companies.
  • The Companies House register is a comprehensive database containing information on all companies incorporated in the United Kingdom. Users can access or query this register through Companies House search to uncover industry trends or obtain specific information about a particular company.
  • If you’re looking to establish a business in the UK, the advanced search function can help you identify competitors, uncover potential market gaps, analyse industry survival rates, pinpoint the ideal location for your business, and much more.

According to company law, enterprises incorporated in the UK have a statutory requirement to file the following information, most of which is made available to the public through the Companies House register —

  • Company formation details — An entrepreneur must provide details such as name and statutory office address during registration.

  • Annual accounts — Prepared from the company’s financial records and includes a balance sheet, profit and loss statements, and notes to the account.

  • Confirmation statement (formerly, annual return) — Submitted for every financial year and contains information about the company’s address, directors, shareholders, and share capital. It helps the registrar maintain accurate and current information about companies in the UK.

  • Changes to company details — Including changes in the name of a director, shareholders, share capital, and business name.

  • Change of address notifications— If any of the company’s addresses (office and director addresses) change during its lifetime, the leadership is expected to notify the registrar using form AD01.

  • Information on Persons with Significant Control (PSC) with more than 25% of shares or voting rights.

  • Event-based filings — Corporations must report any changes or updates, such as changes to the constitution or the establishment or satisfaction of charges, e.g., mortgage charges or loans secured against the company assets.

What is Companies House?

Companies House is the official registrar of companies responsible for —

  1. UK company registration, which involves processing applications for company formation and issuing certificates of incorporation.

  2. Maintaining a central repository of free company information, including registered addresses, details of directors and shareholders, and annual financial filings. The repository makes accurate and up-to-date information available to the public.

  3. Provides access to company information, promoting transparency and accountability in the UK economy, helping investors, creditors, and other stakeholders make informed decisions and maintain trust in the corporate sector.

  4. Oversees the process of dissolving companies that are no longer trading or wish to cease their operation, updating their status in the official register, and liquidating their assets, if necessary.

What is the Companies House register?

It is an online database of all Companies House-incorporated companies in the UK. It provides access to crucial details like business names, registration numbers, registration dates, statutory office addresses, directors’ details, shareholders’ information, financial statements, and filing histories.

These available details make it an indispensable tool for individuals, entrepreneurs, investors, and businesses, facilitating informed decisions, market analysis, due diligence, and regulatory compliance assessments.

Read: Changes to UK company law on registered office address.

What is the Companies House search service?

The search service is the primary means users access the data in the register. Its advanced search function is vital for those seeking to explore the UK business landscape beyond individual company details.

By leveraging this function, users can also comprehensively understand the dynamics of their chosen industry, identify market trends, assess competition, and make informed strategic decisions.

How do I get company information through the Companies House search service?

The search service is a public tool that provides free company data to consumers, businesses, or any other party seeking to explore and surface information about a company.

Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

To use the service, —

  1. Visit the GOV.UK Companies House website:

    https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk

  2. Enter the name or the CRN of the company you’re researching and click “Search.”

  3. Scroll through the results, which include a list of businesses with similar names, and click on your company of interest.

  4. Once you find a business of interest, you can view a company information snapshot, ownership structure, and filing history. You can also download filed documents, order a certificate or a certified document, and follow the company.

  5. You’ll need to create an account using your email address to follow a particular company and also set up free email alerts or notifications on their activities.

  6. Select the ‘More’ tab, which lets you download certified copies of the company’s key documents.

You do not need to sign up with your email address and password to review primary company data.

Insight

The Companies House WebCheck and the Companies House Direct were discontinued on 30 November 2023.

Information available via the register —

  1. Company identification and status —

    • Company name and registered address;

    • Company registration number (CRN);

    • Date of incorporation;

    • Company status; and

    • Company type.

  2. Governance, ownership, and structure —

    • PSCs;

    • Current and resigned directors;

    • Articles of association; and

    • Secretaries.

  3. Financial information and filings —

    • Confirmation statements and tax returns;

    • Appointment and termination of officers;

    • Charges, e.g. Mortgage charge;

    • Insolvency information;

    • Company accounts (annual); and

    • Filing history.

  4. Business details and activities —-

    • Registered office address;

    • Nature of business (SIC codes indicating a business activity); and

    • Statement of capital and allotment of shares.

You will not find personal information like the company authentication code for online filing. Further, as a matter of safety, companies are discouraged from using home addresses as the official company or director service address since this info will be available publicly.

How to Use the Companies House Advanced Search Function

The advanced search function is a feature of the find and update company information service designed for individuals or entities looking to uncover trends or comprehensive systematic information about the UK business landscape.

Available through

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/advanced-search.

You can use the function for the following purposes —

  1. Company name search

    You can use the name search functions to surface nuanced information about company naming trends in the UK.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    The first parameter is the ‘names that contain’ search field. Here, you’ll be able to enter a keyword or phrase related to business names.

    For example, when researching technology companies, you can start by searching the keyword ‘Tech’ in this field. The results will populate all the companies with names containing the word ‘Tech,’ such as ‘Global Tech Solutions’ or ‘London Tech Services’ (not real names). They will also include an overview with details such as status, legal structure, registration number, address, and SIC code.

    The ‘exclude company names that contain’ search field filters out specific names or terms from the search results. For instance, if you enter ‘services’ in this field, the search results will exclude companies with names containing the word ‘services.’

    These parameters help users refine their search criteria to find companies that meet their specific requirements or exclude those irrelevant to their search.

    Insight

    If you remember part of a company’s name, such as ‘Consulting,’ enter it to find relevant matches like ‘ABC Consulting Services’ or ‘XYZ Consulting Group.’ These results provide an overview, including details such as status, legal structure, registration number, address, and SIC code to help you identify a desired company of interest. Additionally, you can refine your search by excluding specific terms using the ‘exclude company names that contain’ field, aiding in finding precisely what you need.

  2. Search by full or partial registered office address or date of incorporation

    Furthermore, you can use the address service to search for companies within a specific address range. Whether you have the complete or partial address, this feature allows you to identify businesses registered at a particular location.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    This feature can be handy when assessing the level of competition within a specific area or region.

    The incorporation date search feature enables users to retrieve information about companies registered within a specific timeframe. For instance, by specifying a date range, you can pinpoint the number of companies registered during that period. Using these insights, you get a sense of the stability of businesses within the industry and broader economic trends.

    You can also examine the industries of newly incorporated companies during a selected timeframe and uncover emerging sectors, gauge market trends, and identify areas of growth or decline within the economy.

    See also: Exploring the Implications of Business Survival Rates.

  3. Search by company status

    You can search by company status. Filter parameters encompass a range of statuses, including active, dissolved, open, closed, converted closed, receivership, liquidation, administration, insolvency proceedings, and voluntary arrangement.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    The status filter provides invaluable insights, especially to individuals seeking to establish a UK company or seeking information about the following—

    • The viability of businesses within a particular industry — By filtering companies based on their status (active, dissolved, closed, etc.), investors, creditors, and other stakeholders can assess businesses’ health, performance, and viability within a particular industry.

    • Risk assessment — Understanding companies’ status helps evaluate risks associated with business transactions. For example, investors can avoid investing in companies undergoing insolvency proceedings or liquidation, minimising financial risks.

    • Contractual obligations— A company’s status can affect its legal standing and contractual obligations. For instance, when entering into agreements or partnerships, stakeholders need to verify the status of the involved companies to ensure they are legally capable of fulfilling their obligations.

    • Compliance and regulatory requirements — Businesses must comply with various regulatory requirements, and their status reflects their adherence to these regulations. Monitoring companies’ status ensures compliance with legal obligations and regulatory frameworks.

  4. Search by nature of business

    The ‘Nature of Business’ search parameter enables users to filter companies based on their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, providing insights into the specific industries or sectors they operate in.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    By entering a relevant SIC code, such as “01120,” for agricultural production, users can narrow down their search results to companies in the sector.

    Stakeholders can use this functionality for market analysis, competitor research, and identifying potential business opportunities within targeted industries.

  5. Search by Company Type and Company Subtype

    These parameters encompass various company types and subtypes with unique characteristics and legal frameworks.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    By leveraging this search functionality, users can tailor their search queries to specific categories, allowing for comprehensive analyses of trends such as the number of businesses registered under a particular regime, lifespan, survival rates, and industry distribution based on SIC codes and other relevant details.

    For example, users can target specific company types like “Limited Liability Partnership” or “Public Limited Company,” enabling them to gain insights into the operational structures and regulatory obligations of entities falling under these classifications.

    Furthermore, users can explore subtypes such as “Community Interest Company” or “Private Fund Limited Partnership,” highlighting companies with specialised missions or operating models. A nuanced exploration allows users to identify businesses aligned with specific objectives or interests, enhancing the relevance and precision of their search results.

  6. Search by dissolved date

    Searching by winding-up date allows users to track and analyse the history of companies that have ceased operations within a specified timeframe.

    Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

    The functionality enables users to —

    • Perform a historical analysis — By setting a dissolved date range; users can examine the dissolution patterns of companies over time. This can reveal trends, such as fluctuations in business closures, economic downturns, or industry-specific challenges, providing valuable insights for researchers, analysts, and policymakers.

    • Market research and due diligence — Businesses seeking to enter new markets or assess competitive landscapes can use dissolved date searches to understand market dynamics and competitor behaviour. Identifying recently closed companies may uncover opportunities or challenges within specific industries or geographic regions. Furthermore, the dissolution history of companies within a certain period can inform risk assessments and investment decisions.

    Insight

    Users can gain granular insights into the UK business environment by independently exploring parameters or trends in business names, addresses, incorporation dates, status, nature of business, company type, subtype, and dissolved date.

    However, its value emerges when these search functions are combined, allowing users to perform sophisticated analyses tailored to their needs.

    For example, let’s say a user is an investor or founder seeking to understand the UK tech industry. They can refine their search by, for instance, using the keyword “tech” to find technology companies (using the company name search), operating within a specific location (using the address search), incorporated within a particular timeframe (using the incorporation date search), with active status (using the company status search), engaged in software development (using the nature of business search), structured as a limited liability partnership (using the company type search), and examine their dissolution patterns over time (using the dissolved date search).

    Such a holistic approach will enable users to uncover comprehensive and actionable insights, supporting various applications such as market research, due diligence, risk assessment, and regulatory compliance.

Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

How to order for a certified certificate and company documents

Once you’ve surfaced the information about a business of interest, if you select the ‘More’ tab, you’ll find that you can get certified copies of the company details.

Find and Update Company Information Using the Companies House Register Your Company Formations

You can order a certified copy of a document in a company’s filing history. To make the order, you’ll need to sign in to or create a Companies House account and have a debit or credit card with you.

Orders for registration documents consist of the certificate of incorporation and all other documents issued or filed when the company was formed.

The fee for the standard dispatch —

  • It costs £15 for a certified document with standard dispatch. Incorporation packages cost £30. The Registrar aims to send orders within 10 working days to a UK or international address.

  • They also send UK orders by Royal Mail 2nd Class post and international orders by Royal Mail International Standard post.

The fee for the express dispatch —

  • It costs £50 for a certified document with express dispatch. Incorporation packages cost £100. Orders received before 11 am will be sent out the same day. Orders received after 11 am will be sent out the next working day.

  • UK orders are sent by Royal Mail 1st Class post, and international orders by Royal Mail International post.

Interested parties can order a company’s certified certificate of incorporation, along with —

  • Summary statement – previously known as statement of good standing

  • The company’s official office address

  • Directors

  • Secretaries

  • Company objects.

The fee for the above order includes —

  • £15 for standard dispatch to a UK or international address. The order will be sent out within 10 working days by Royal Mail 2nd Class post and international orders by Royal Mail International Standard post.

  • £50 for express dispatch to a UK or international address. Orders received before 11 am will be sent out the same working day. Orders received after 11 am will be sent out the next working day. UK orders are sent by Royal Mail 1st Class post, and international orders are sent by Royal Mail International post.

How to use Companies House services to follow a company and access information

To track a company using the search service, set up free email alerts for updates on filings. Receive notifications whenever the company submits a document, ensuring you stay informed about its activities and status.

What kind of companies must register with companies house?

As the official registrar of companies in the UK, you can get information on all companies registered in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The types of business on the service include —

  • Private limited company (LTDs) —The most common type registered in the UK. They are privately owned and are limited by shares.

  • Public Limited Company (PLCs) — The shares of these establishments are publicly traded on the UK stock exchange.

  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) — Hybrid outfits that combine partnership and LTD venture elements to provide limited liability to the partners.

  • Limited partnerships (LP)— Combines the features of a general partnership and an LLP to offer liability protection to limited partners but not the general partners.

  • Community Interest Company (CIC)—A CIC can be formed directly as a new company or by converting another company form into a CIC. These businesses are formed to benefit a community.

  • Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG) — Set up as not-for-profit entities that do not have shareholders.

  • Right to manage companies (RTM) — Business entities set up by leaseholders to take over managing the property they are leasing.

However, the UK search service will not surface information on entities with the following prefixes because such data is excluded from the register —

  • Industrial & Provident Company (IP);

  • Scottish Industrial/Provident Company (SP);

  • Investment Company with Variable Capital (ICVC);

  • Scottish ICVC (SI); Registered Society (RS);

  • Northern Ireland Industrial/Provident Company or Credit Union (NP); and

  • Northern Ireland ICVC (NV).

Further, companies with the following prefixes are not obliged to register any documents —

  • Royal Charter Companies (English/Wales) (RC);

  • Scottish Royal Charter Companies (SR); and

  • Northern Ireland Royal Charter Companies (NR)

Register and Thrive

Register your company online within 24 hours for just £12.48. Afterwards, you will receive your Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR) from HMRC within ten working days at your trading address.

Why is the search service page useful and important?

The service enables stakeholders in the UK to make informed decisions and confidently engage in business. Its main benefits include —

  1. Freedom to information — In the UK, the register facilitates access to information held by public authorities.

  2. Fosters transparency and accountability — The search service promotes transparency in the business sector by providing vital business information on the performance and ownership of a company to stakeholders, employees, and consumers.

  3. Fraud prevention — People can use the service to investigate a company’s credibility before doing business.

Fast Fact

From Monday, 4 March 2024, Companies House has new and enhanced powers to improve the quality and reliability of its data and tackle misuse of the companies register. Such powers include the right to query information submitted by companies and request supporting documentation. Subscribers of UK companies must submit an undertaking that they are creating the company for lawful and not fraudulent activities.

Limitations of Companies House Search Service.

Though the service provides invaluable information on registered companies, it has the following limitations —

  • Currency of information — Since companies submit information to comply with the Companies Act annually, you’ll find a significant delay between the occurrence of an event and when the data is submitted to the registrar and uploaded on the website.

  • Limited information — Information provided on the website, such as annual accounts, may not accurately represent a company’s financial performance. Furthermore, some companies, such as Royal Charter Companies and Industrial and Provident Companies, are not required to submit their information to the Registrar.

Are a company’s memorandum and articles of association available in the register?

Yes. Companies submit form IN01 alongside their articles and memorandum of association during registration; these documents are publicly available on the register. The memorandum of association is a legal statement that includes the names of the founding members and their intention to incorporate the company for lawful purposes, while the articles of association outline how the company will be owned and formally managed.

See Also: Company Formations Checklist

How can businesses use the Companies House search service?

Businesses can use the service to support their operations, make informed business decisions, and gain valuable insights into industry trends and performance. Specific ways to use the service include —

  1. Competitive intelligence and research — Gather beneficial corporate intelligence information on industry trends and competitor insights, such as registration status, financial performance, and the individuals behind them. Such transparency levels encourage healthy market competition, which benefits consumers.

  2. Due diligence — If you are considering entering a business relationship with a company, you can leverage the service and review its filing history. You can assess its financial health, insolvency information, and other relevant data to help you make an informed decision.

  3. Market research — If you seek to identify potential suppliers or partners with a good reputation, you can use the service to obtain insights about the companies operating in your industry and obtain data such as their financial performance and ownership structure.

Can consumers search Companies House using previous company names?

Yes. Suppose you’re thinking of working with another company or using their services. In that case, you can perform a search free of charge using a business name and access valuable information. You do not need an account for basic company information, but if you wish to follow the company, you’ll need to register and receive regular updates about its operations and activities.

Can I remove my personal details from the Companies House search?

Once you submit your personal information to the Registrar during formation, it is challenging to have them remove it. However, you can buy a director’s address from Your Company Formations for your correspondence and company address in the public register.

Secure Your Privacy with Our Director Privacy Address Service

Protect your personal information and safeguard your privacy with our Director Privacy Address service. Stay secure and confident in your business dealings.

If you believe having your details on the register poses a safety and security risk. In that case, you can contact Companies House customer service at 0303 1234 500 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 6 pm) and apply to have them removed or restricted through the following link: https://www.gov.uk/stop-companies-house-from-publishing-your-address.

Can I find sole trader information on the companies house search service or register?

No. Sole traders are not required to register with Companies House UK because they are not limited companies. A sole trader operates individually and is personally liable for their business. However, they must register with the HM Revenue and Customs (HRMC) for tax purposes.

What’s the difference between the national archives and the companies’ house search register?

The national archives are the UK government’s official archive and are responsible for preserving and providing public access to historical records and documents. Companies are responsible for registering UK companies and maintaining their information. The archives can be used to access government and public records, maps, and historical photographs. You may also find government records of a company’s registration and dissolution. The register contains the company’s information filed as required by the company’s registrar.

Warning

Once you submit your address as the director’s address to Companies House during registration, it may not be easy to have them remove it. However, you can buy a director’s service address from Your Company Formations and use it as your address in the public register.

Difference between Webfiling and Companies House search

Webfiling, a company portal from Companies House, streamlines the submission of company data, whereas the search service helps uncover filed information. A company authentication code is required for web filing; however, accessing basic company data through the search service doesn’t require credentials. But a Companies House account is necessary for in-depth company details.