Setting up a private company

Understanding your options

Our tips will help you choose the right way to register your business, whether it’s using a formation agent, an accountant or registering the company yourself.

If you’re planning on setting up a new business as a private limited company, there are three main ways to do this in the UK.

• Use a company formation agent
• Do it yourself directly with Companies House
• Use an accountant

It’s vital that you comply with the Companies Act 2006, to make sure your business is on a sound legal footing. Using a registered company formation agent could be a good option if you’re unfamiliar with the regulations or how they apply to your business type.

Formation agents

We have long-standing partnerships with some of the UK’s leading company formation providers. They can help to simplify things for you, and once you’ve explained a little about the profile of the company you’d like to start, they can also recommend a suitable structure. They can also help with logo design, accountancy services, the registration of trademarks, website addresses and registration for VAT – all of which can save you time and hassle. Formation agents can also help with

• Naming your business
• Company secretarial support
• Registered office address services
• Support setting up a business bank account
• Online services, such as getting your certificate of incorporation
• Secure information exchange to protect your data

Do it yourself

Another option is to register a private company yourself with Companies House. It costs about £12 to register online (or £40 to register by post, which takes 8 to 10 days or £100 for a same-day service).

That doesn’t include the time you’ll need to spend familiarising yourself with what you need to do, or downloading templates and samples of documents. It can be cheaper to use a formation agent – fees start from as little as £5 – and they’ll provide a lot more to get your company off to the best start.

If you decide to use a formation agent, you can check whether they’re on the list of approved agents at Companies House.

Using an accountant

Accountants can also help when you’re setting up your business. They can give you advice on lots of important decisions, like the best way to structure your company. If you don’t know a local accountant, you can search for one on the websites of the main accountancy bodies, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accounts in England and Wales.

Whichever route you choose, consider what you need and be realistic about your level of knowledge – it can take time and expertise to become familiar with regulations so your business runs smoothly.

To read more about starting your own company, visit Start-up Britain, or see the government’s advice on setting up a business.

Choosing a business structure

Deciding the legal structure of your business

Understand the responsibilities that come with business partnerships, limited companies and sole proprietorship.