Aside from the sole trader route, the limited liability company is the most popular business structure in the UK.
If you want to set up a limited company online right away, simply click here.
With a limited company, the liability of company directors is ‘limited’ in that the company’s finances are separate from the personal finances of the business owner. This is not the case for those who run their business as a sole trader.
Limited company shareholders are not responsible for any debts run up by the business, although directors may need to guarantee loans or credit taken out in the company’s name.
Requirements of limited companies
There are some high level requirements which all limited companies must fulfil:
The company must be registered at Companies House
The company’s annual accounts must be filed at Companies House
An Annual Return (Form AR01) must be completed each year to ensure Companies House records the most up-to-date information about the company. This is subject to a modest annual fee.
HMRC must be informed if the company has any profits or taxable income on an annual basis.
Every limited company must complete an annual corporation tax return. Any liabilities must be paid within 9 months of the company year end.
All company employees must pay income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) on any income they receive.
Registering a new limited company – the company formation process
Companies House is the regulatory body for the registration of all limited companies in the UK, and maintains the registry of companies.
Before you can start a business as a limited company, the company itself has to be registered with Companies House.
Registering a new company itself is a relatively simple process. You can either do this yourself, ask your accountant to do it for you, or do it all through a company formations agent.
The most popular option is to use a company formation agent. They allow you to complete the entire registration process online, and it can all be completed in a matter of hours.
Documents you will need to complete
When you are registering a new limited company, the following documents have to be completed and returned to Companies House:
- Memorandum of Association – this includes the names and addresses of the subscribers who are forming the limited company.
- Articles of Association – outlines the directors’ powers, and any shareholders’ rights, etc.
- Form IN01 – contains details of the director(s), company secretary (if required), details of any shareholders, and details of the share capital (if it is a company limited by shares).
Company formation agents will have ready-made copies of these documents.
The Companies House website provides detailed guidance and FAQ’s which describe all aspects and requirements of the registration process, including the limitations imposed on company names, and the payment required to complete the registration process.
Types of Limited Company
Private Limited Companies, the most typical set up for small UK businesses cannot offer shares to the public, but may have any number of shareholders.
Each limited company must have at least one director. Following the implementation of the Companies Act 2006, having a company secretary is no longer a legal requirement, although you may wish to appoint one.
Unlike limited liability companies, public limited companies (PLCs) are allowed to offer their shares to the public in order to raise funds. A PLC must have at least 2 directors to make management decisions, and a company secretary.
Online Company Formation
Over the past 7 years, thousands of ByteStart visitors have set up companies online through our partnership with leading company formation agent Duport. The service is fast and simple, and help is on hand if you require it. You can find out more here.
More about business structures
Choosing the most suitable business structure for your new venture can be tricky, but ByteStart has a selection of guides to help you make the right decision;
- Limited company or sole trader – which is best for me?
- 10 advantages of running your business as a limited company over being a sole trader
- 5 things you must do when you go self employed
- Why it’s important you plan your exit strategy before you start your business
- The responsibilities of a company director