How to register a company in 5 steps

Company registration, company formation and incorporation are all terms used for the process of setting up a business as a formal legal entity. A business cannot operate as a company until it has been registered at Companies House under the Companies Act 2006. There are several advantages to running a business as a company, chief of which is that a company can raise funds by issuing and selling shares. Read Choosing your business structure for information on other types of business entities. Registering a company could seem like a daunting process, but it really isn't that complicated. Read this guide to find out how to register a company quickly.

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1. Check if your ideal company name is available

Check if your ideal company name is available to register. If another company has registered the same name, you will have to choose a different one. For more information about rules and restrictions read Naming your business. Check the Trademarks Register of the UK Intellectual Property Office to make sure your chosen name is not the same as an existing trademark. Ask a lawyer if you are unsure about this.

2. Choose an registered office address

A company must have a registered office address where notices, letters and reminders can be delivered to the company. It does not need to be an address where day-to-day business is carried out, so it could be your accountant’s address or a director’s address for example. Be aware that the registered office address will be available on the public record at Companies House. A business risks being struck off the register or wound up if they cannot be contacted at an address.

3. Decide the type of company you want to form

An easy way to register a company is using Rocket Lawyer’s Company Formation. Rocket Lawyer will guide you through the process, collecting all the required information and then register your company as a company limited by shares at Companies House. A private company limited by shares is the most common type of company. A company of this type has a share capital and the liability of each member is limited to the amount, if any, unpaid on their shares. eg if a company has one member (shareholder) and they own 20,000 shares at a value of £1 they would be liable for £20,000 (if unpaid) at the time of winding up.

Other types of company are

  • private company limited by guarantee (limited to amount guarantors agree to contribute to company assets if company is wound up)

  • private unlimited company (directors or shareholders are liable for all debts)

  • public limited company

4. Choose who you want to run the company

Private companies are required to have at least one director who must be an individual (as opposed to a company acting as a director).

All individuals actings as company directors:

  • must be at least 16 years of age

Private limited companies are not required to have a company secretary anymore (a person who ensures compliance and updates Companies House with ongoing changes). These responsibilities should be carried out by company directors. Public limited companies are however required to have a company secretary as they are subject to more regulation.

The company secretary can also be a company director, but cannot:

5. Decide how many shares you want to issue and at what value

A very simple way to form a company is to issue at registration one share at the value of £1, using the sole director as the shareholder. Additional shares can be issued at a later date. Rocket Lawyer Company Formation registers your company with as many shares as you wish to issue, at whatever value you choose. Ask a lawyer for more information on different types of shares.

After completing the Rocket Lawyer Company Formation form and submitting your information you must wait for your company to be approved. You can’t start to operate the business as a limited company until you receive approval. If you register your company with Rocket Lawyer’s Company Formation, provided there are no issues, you should expect approval in 48 hours or less. Read What happens after you register your company to find out what happens after registering your company. 

Get started

Register your company

Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest