Companies House is the Registrar of Companies in the UK. It oversees the incorporation and dissolution of all incorporated business structures, and acts as a central repository for information relating to all limited companies.
Companies have been registered centrally since 1844, and there are currently over 2 million live limited companies in operation in the UK, with around 300,000 new formations taking place each year.
Overseas companies, which have a place of business (or branch) in the UK must also register with Companies House, file annual financial statements, annual returns, and related information.
The incorporation process
You need to submit three forms to Companies House in order to incorporate a new company.
These are: Form IN01 (your company and personal details), and the Articles and Memorandum of Association.
You must also choose a suitable company name which does not fall foul of the company naming rules.
You must also appoint at least one company director, and a company secretary if you wish (this is not longer a mandatory appointment).
You can set up a company direct with Companies House, via a formations agent (an intermediary), or your accountant will often provide this service on your behalf if you are to become a client.
Read more in our dedicated guide to forming a company.
Limited company responsibilities
As a company director, there are a number of responsibilities you must fulfil in dealing with Companies House each year.
- You must complete the Annual Return form, and submit it to Companies House each year. Form AR01 provides the registrar with a snapshot of each company every twelve months.
- You must inform Companies House of any changes in the particulars of your company’s officials (company director(s) and company secretary (if applicable). This includes changes to an individuals’ name and/or address, a change to the company’s registered address, any registration of charges, or an allotment of shares. Most of these tasks can be done online, via WebFiling.
- You must provide Companies House with a copy of your annual accounts, regardless of whether or not the company is dormant or active.
Although you will have an accountant to deal with your tax affairs, and often your communications with Companies House, it is ultimately the responsibility of the company’s directors to ensure that all information submitted is correct, and that all forms and returns are delivered before the relevant deadlines.
You can read more about the responsibilities of a limited company director in our dedicated article here.
You can visit the Companies House site for some more background.
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