How to set up a limited company – the basics

Aside from the sole trader route, the limited liability company is the most popular business structure to trade under in the UK.

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 (self employed).

Limited company shareholders are not responsible for any debts run up by the business, although banks may ask company directors to provide loan guarantees for commercial loans or credit taken out in the company’s name.

If you want to set up a limited company right away, you can do this easily online with ByteStart’s Company Formation Partner.

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 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.

A 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 to register a limited company

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.
  • Form IN01 – this contains details of the director(s), registered address, company name, company secretary details (an optional appointment), details of any shareholders, details of the share capital (if it is a company limited by shares), and details on any Person with Significant Control (PSC).

Company formation agents will have ready-made copies of these documents.

The GOV.UK website provides some useful guidance on all aspects and requirements of the company registration process, including Model Articles of Associations and the limitations imposed on company names.

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.

Read more about the different types of limited company.

Requirements of Limited Companies

There are some high-level requirements that all limited companies must fulfil:

  • The company’s annual accounts must be filed at Companies House.
  • A Confirmation Statement (this used to be the Annual Return (Form AR01) must be submitted every year to ensure Companies House records the most up-to-date information about the company. You can do this online or with a paper form. It currently costs £13 to file your Confirmation Statement online, or £40 if you choose the paper route.
  • 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 (CT600). Any liabilities must be paid within 9 months of the company year-end.

Form a limited company in just 5 mins

Over the past 10 years, thousands of ByteStart visitors have set up companies online through our partnership with leading company formation agent Duport.

Their service is one of the fastest and simplest available, taking just 5 minutes to complete, and with friendly help on hand if you have any questions. Find out more here.

Last updated: 4th May, 2021

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