Companies House WebCheck And How To Use It

Companies House is the registrar of companies in the UK. It is where a company's name, address, directors and shareholders are listed.

Recently, the British government has put much of the database online. The only items kept secret are the home addresses of Directors and their full date of birth, but even they can be accessed by the security services and credit referencing agencies. The security services may need to urgently find out who is behind a company and credit-referencing agencies need to know this too, so they can price the risk of giving you access to credit.

So, now that our government has decided to spew these details online for all the word to see, what does that mean for Joe SmallBusiness?

Well, take a look at this: http://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk and https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

Type in any limited company name you know, then click on the resulting links. Interesting, isn't it? You can see the company personnel, the mail addresses and the historical filings of the company.

→ Get a company mailing address

This isn't Big Brother at work. Companies have to be transparent to operate licitly, otherwise you have a situation like an offshore tax haven; nobody knows who runs a company or where they are, so they can run wild, at least for a short period, until the local mafia get tired of the heat they attract.

Here is a list of info that can be found using the above service:

- Company name;
- Company registration number;
- Incorporation date;
- Legal form of the business: LTD, LLG, LLP.
- Registered office;
- Directors’ details (name, mailing address);
- Shareholders’ details;
- Company secretary details (not an essential post, nowadays);
- People with significant control (PSCs);
- SAIL address;
- Primary business activity;
- Trading status: Active, dormant, dissolved;
- Filing dates;
- Annual returns and related filings;
- Any legal actions against the company;
- Insolvency details;
- Details of disqualified directors.

So, it's quite a bit of information.

For this reason it's important to think about what you put into your company registration. It becomes part of a public record. You are taking a step from your back room out into the high street. You become a public figure.

The upside is that having your own company gives you much more credibility in the eyes of your clients. They are reassured that you are, at the very least, capably of setting up and running something besides a 'garden shed' sole-trader operation. Not to run-down sole traders; being a sole trader is a smart move in the early days, as setting up and maintaining a UK company is a chore. It also it bother to shut down. There's no need to do this if you're just starting out.

For someone who want to be taken seriously and to have a buffer between himself and potential litigants, a company formation is something that your accountant will suggest to you eventually.

→ Start your own company today

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