Companies House Search Service [Your Comprehensive Guide]
Companies House, established by the Companies Act 2006, serves as the official registrar of businesses in the UK and is responsible for regulating, incorporating, and dissolving UK companies. The agency operates under the authority of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. Their primary mandate is to promote transparency and accountability in the corporate sector. According to the legislation, enterprises have a statutory requirement to file the following information, most of which is made available to the public through the Companies House Search service —
- Company Incorporation — A company must provide details such as name and registered office 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 — Submitted annually and contains information about the company’s registered office, company directors, shareholders, and share capital.
- Changes to company details — Including changes in the name of a director, shareholders, share capital, and name.
- Information on Persons with Significant Control (PSC) — Register persons with significant control who are individuals 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.
Companies that don’t adhere to filing as required by law may face fines, penalties, or potential dissolution. While public access to Companies House offices in Cardiff, Belfast, and Edinburgh is limited, certain documents can be found online.
What is the Companies House search service?
Companies House services is an online tool availed by Companies House that enables individuals to access information about businesses registered in the United Kingdom.
The agency avails company information for free through the following gov uk channels —
The Companies House search service is free of charge and does not require users to register to access basic company data. Whilst the Companies House WebCheck may require registration and payment of £1 to view and download.
What Company Information Is Accessible Through Companies House Services?
The information available through the Companies House search includes —
- Company identification and status —
- Current company address and name;
- Previous company names;
- Company registration number;
- Date company was incorporated;
- Company status; and
- Company type.
- Governance, ownership, and structure —
- Persons with significant control (PSC);
- Current and resigned officers;
- Articles of association; and
- Financial information and filings —
- Accounts or confirmation statements and annual returns ;
- Appointment and termination of officers;
- Charges, e.g. Mortgage charge;
- Insolvency information;
- Filing history of a company.
- Business details and activities —-
- Registered office address;
- Nature of business (standard industrial code or SIC codes); and
- Statement of capital and allotment of shares.
For micro company accounts, you can access simple abridge which may or may not be audited.
You can create an account and view a company’s snapshot, which includes –
- Filing history – A record of all the documents filed by the company with Companies House, such as annual accounts.
- Persons with significant control and officers – A list of the company’s directors and secretaries, including their full names, roles, nationality, country of residence and appointment dates.
- Charges – Details about outstanding charges or mortgages against the company’s assets.
- Insolvency – Indicating information about any previous or ongoing insolvency proceedings.
- Registers – Access multiple company registers, such as a register of its members, including registered addresses, allotments, and transfers of shares register, depending on the type of registers a company keeps.
You can also create an account and provide your credit card information to order a certificate of incorporation for a company of interest. Request additional information with your order, such as their statement of good standing and objects.
Which Types of Companies Can Be Found on the Companies House Search?
As the official registrar of companies in the UK, you can get information on any type of legal entity registered in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. The types of businesses on the service include —
- Private limited company (LTD) —The most common type of new companies registered in the UK. They are privately owned and are limited by shares.
- Public Limited Company (PLC) — The shares of these establishments are publicly traded on the UK stock exchange.
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) — Hybrid outfits that combine partnership and LTD venture elements to provide limited liability to the partners.
- Community Interest Company (CIC) — Can be formed directly as a startup or by converting another company form into a CIC. These businesses are formed for the advantage of a community.
- Companies Limited by Guarantee (CLG) — Setup as not for profits entities and 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 companies house search service will not surface information on kinds of company 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)
Why Is Companies House Search Service Important?
The service enables stakeholders in the UK to make informed decisions and confidently engage in business. Its main benefits include —
- Freedom to information — In the UK, Companies House, through the search service, facilitates the freedom to access information held by public authorities.
- Fosters transparency and accountability — The search service promotes transparency in the business sector by availing vital business information on the performance and ownership of a company to not just stakeholders but also employees and consumers.
- Fraud prevention — People can use the service to investigate a company’s credibility before doing business.
How to Use the Companies House Beta (or Companies House Search)
The companies house beta search online services is a public tool that provides free company information to consumers, stakeholders, and other parties seeking to explore and surface information about a company. To use the service, —
- Visit the Companies House website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house.
- Click “Find company information” or directly access the page: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/.
- Enter the name or registration number of the company you’re researching and click “Search.”
- Browse through the results, which include a list of businesses with similar names, and click on your company of interest.
- Once you get to the company of interest, you’ll find, as a public record, its information, including its ownership structure and filing history, with the option of downloading the filed pdf documents for free.
- You’ll need to register and create an account using your email address to follow a particular company and also set up free email alerts tell you relevant details on their activities.
You may also use the WebCheck service:
- Visit Companies House Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house.
- Click “Find and update company information” and scroll below the “Start now” button. See below “Otherways to apply.”
- Click on the “WebCheck service” hyperlink or go directly to the WebCheck through this link: https://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/.
- Enter the company name and number and click “Search.”
- Browse your company of interest and review the available information.
- Once the new page loads, click “Order information on this company.”
- Tick the boxes to select the records you want to order and click “add to order.”
- You’ll get current appointment reports for free and be charged £1 each for other records.
- Proceed to checkout.
- You’ll need to create an account to make your payments and purchases.
The Companies House WebCheck and the Companies House Direct will be discontinued on 30 November 2023
Limitations of Companies House Search Service.
Though the service provides invaluable information on registered companies, it has the following limitations —
- Currency of information — Since organisations submit information to comply with the companies act on an annual basis, you’ll find a significant delay between the occurrence of an event and when the information 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 Companies House.
How can I use companies house search service to follow a company?
If you are working with another company and you want to be updated on their activities, you can follow them on the Companies House search platform and obtain email alerts about submissions and updates. To achieve this, you need to register an account and include the business to your “followed companies” list.
To accomplish this:
- Visit the Companies House website: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/
- Select “Sign in” at the top right corner of the webpage.
- If you possess an account, sign in using your email and password. If not, click “Register” to make a new account. You will be required to input your email address and generate a password.
- After logging in, use the homepage search bar to locate the company you wish to track. You can input the company’s name or registration number.
- Click the company number or name in the search results to access the company’s overview page.
- Press the “Follow this company” button on the overview page beneath the company’s name and registration number.
- A confirmation message will display, indicating that the company has been added to your tracked companies list.
- To manage your tracked companies and email alerts, click your email address at the top right corner of the page and choose “Your account.” Here, you can view and manage your “followed companies” and modify your notification preferences.
- By tracking a company, you will be notified via email about new submissions and updates for that company. With this, you can stay informed about any alterations in the company’s status, management, or financial data.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can other 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 —
- Competitive intelligence and research — Gather extremely useful corporate intelligence information on industry trends and competitor insights such as their registration status, financial performance, and the individuals behind them. Such transparency levels encourage healthy market competition, which benefits the consumers.
- Due diligence — If you are considering entering a business relationship with a company, you can leverage the service and review their filing history. You can assess their financial health, insolvency information, and other relevant data to help you make an informed decision.
- 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?
Yes. You can search the companies house register for free and get company information, including registered address, without creating an account. However, you’ll need to create an account if you intend to follow a company and set up free email alerts on their filing activities.
Can I remove my personal details from the Companies House search?
Once you submit your personal information, such as contact detail, for example, company officers addresses, to Companies House during registration, since they make this information available to the public, it is impossible to have them remove it. However, you can buy a director’s address from Your Company Formations to use it as your correspondence address in the public register.
However, suppose you believe having your details on Companies House poses a safety and security risk. In that case, you can contact Companies House customer service 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?
No. Sole traders are not required to register on 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 companies’ house search register?
The national archives are the official archive of the UK government and are responsible for preserving and providing access to historical records and documents. On the other hand, companies house is responsible for registering uk companies and maintaining their information. You can use the archives to access government, 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 registrar of companies.
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.