Last Updated: Jul 04, 2023

What Is Companies House and What Functions Do They Perform?

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Companies House is a government section within the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation. It deals with the regulation and incorporation of limited liability partnerships and limited companies in the UK. As the official registrar of companies in the UK, they function in three separate countries: Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England and Wales.

The major duties of Companies House include inspecting and maintaining all information on LLPs and limited companies. The information displayed on the register of companies can be accessed online by the general public as well as all businesses. All electronic data is available free, which makes the UK the first country to create an incredibly open and obvious corporate information register. Consequently, the general public can effortlessly monitor and inspect the ownership, actions and reliability of every company transacting business in the UK.

Types of businesses registered at Companies House?

Companies House is in charge of approving the incorporation of limited companies. A limited company can be registered online via a company formation representative (agent) or the Web Incorporation Service. Conversely, you can setup a company by post using a paper application form. Companies House never handle unincorporated business structures like general partnership and sole traders.

Below are the types of businesses that can be incorporated at Companies House:

  • Public limited company (PLC)
  • Private limited company by share
  • Private unlimited company
  • Private limited company by guarantee ( no share capital )
  • European Economic Interest Groupings ( GP04 )
  • Limited liability partnership
  • Limited partnership
  • European public businesses
  • International companies

Over 3 million limited companies are consistently accessible on the register of Companies House, with about 550,000 new companies that are incorporated yearly. Based on the latest statistics (September 2015), the Companies House’s register had 3,588,482 businesses on it.

The available services from Companies House

Apart from providing postal and online company formation services as well as maintaining a detailed public register with details of these incorporated companies, Companies House offers electronic filing and data facilities for companies, plus a few information services for the entire public.

Companies House Beta Service

This beta service is a free facility, which provides access to every public data held by Companies House on UK registered businesses, as well as:

The data can be accessed via an internet service or an application program interface (API). You need not register an account with Companies House to access this fundamental corporate information. You are only required to search by company name or director, and the results will be you will be presented.

Companies House Web Filing

Web Filing is a substitute filing service that allows limited companies to deliver documents and information to Companies House online rather than through post. It is a lot more safe, effective and substantially more cost-effective to send information by digital means, and there exist far fewer data and document rejection when delivered this way. Also, customers receive a confirmation email immediately when their submission is received. The documents and information that can be sent through Web-Filing are:

  • Annual accounts
  • Annual returns
  • Change of company details
  • Dormant (inactive) accounts
  • Appointment and removal of secretaries and directors
  • Copies of resolutions
  • Share’s allotment
  • To use Web-Filing, you will have to register with an email address and request for a confirmation code. The code is the same (electronic equivalent) as the signature of a director.

Companies House WebCheck

This is a service that businesses and the general public can utilise to access information about limited companies registered in the UK. The majority of the documents are obtainable as images and can be downloaded for free within minutes however, some reports and documents do attract a small administrative charge.
The company’s information listed below can be accessed free of charge by everyone:

  • Company type
  • Incorporation date
  • Company name and registration number
  • Registered office address
  • Nature of business
  • Accounting reference date
  • Company status
  • Last accounts and yearly return’s filing date
  • Next accounts and yearly return’s due date
  • Account type e.g. Dormant, abbreviated , full
  • Earlier company names
  • Details of current secretary and directors

Companies House Direct

This is a subscription service that gives the general public access to every record held by Companies House. Presently, there exist over 130 million documents dating back almost 20 years. Clients can search by offer name or company and download documents in TIFF or PDF for as little as £1 each; nonetheless, you need to create an account and pay £4 monthly to benefit from the service. 

You can either search by the officer’s name or company to obtain the following information:

  • Company reports
  • Document images of all historical company records
  • Personal appointments
  • Company appointments
  • Online ordering of certified certificates
  • Comprehensive mortgage information
  • Banned directors
  • Dissolved companies
  • Liquidation details

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