What Documents Do You Need To For A LTD?

What documents do you need to form a UK limited company?

Technically, the answer is: none!

That's right, anyone can set up a UK Limited company if they have a debit card and an internet connection. One can go to the Companies House website, and enter the details of your pet cat, if you wish.

'ILikeChasingRodents Ltd' can be set up in about twenty minutes. Companies House do not check your bona fides. It would take far too long. They assume that 99.999% of people who set up a company are who they say they are.

Company owners typically want to reap the benefits of having a limited company; tax savings, limited liability, division of profits, etc. They're usually not messing around!

Having a company means that you have to submit annual returns. If you don't, you get fined. So on a list of Japes That Are Fun To Do, setting up a limited company probably won't be high up.

Mr. Tiddles's owner set up a company for him, but he will have trouble opening a bank account. Any cheques Mr. Tiddles gets for successful rodent capture will not easily be banked, as Mr. Tiddles won't be on the voter registration list, doesn't have a credit history, is not a bill payer and thus won't be given a bank account.

Credit card applications might be easier, as lenders are keen to get one hooked on credit. Pre-paid debit cards are also an option, as long as someone else handles the card; cats do not have opposable thumbs.

But bank accounts, no. Bankers are fat cats, but they won't give accounts to the furry kind.

Tiddles' human master would find the following useful in setting up a company, for himself:

- Passport?

Some bits of info from the passport can be entered into the company formation form, but having a passport or any other ID is not necessary. Information like father's forename and eye colour can be used instead. This is so a stakeholder can absolutely identify himself to Companies House in the future, if he needs to.

- Residential address

You don't need to have proof of this, but you do need to have one. You need an address where letters can be sent to you by Companies House and HMRC. This address can be abroad. It is not accessible online to curious parties; only the security services and credit-referencing agencies can request it.

- Registered Office

This is the official address where your company 'lives'. It has to be in the UK.  This is where companies like RegisteredAddress.co.uk are useful; they provide you with a Registered Office address, for a fee. It saves you having to use your home address. 

This address is publicly viewable from the Companies House website.

(Note: Scotland is a separate country as far as Companies House is concerned;  a company which has a Registered Office in Scotland can't subsequently move to England.)

- Director's Service Address

You don't need to have 'proof' of this address either. This address is where legal letters can be sent to a director. At the time of writing,  one had to pay a fee to access it online.

Many people want a company like RegisteredAddress.co.uk to provide an address for this purpose, also. They don't want to use their home address and they don't like the idea of people being able to see where they live.

Many people set up companies where they are the sole director and shareholder. In these cases all they need are an internet connection, a debit card and a bit of patience.

You may need to have made notes if your setup is more complicated e.g. with additional shareholders and directors. Note: The shareholders own the company and you have to have at least one.

Sites like RegisteredAddress.co.uk can form your company for you. Sometimes they will do it for free if you take additional services with them. Sometimes they charge a fee. Some mail forwarding agents will let you use their address as a Registered Office, and some won't, for legal reasons. Thanks to the internet, you can now easily shop around.

A good, comprehensive mail-forwarding service in Central London should cost about £150 p.a.; there are cheaper ones, but you run the risk of not getting your letters: the company may go bust, cut corners or have interruptions in service. The better companies have been around for years, have a smart website and answer queries promptly.

Britain is unusual in how easy it is to set up a limited liability company here; you don't even need a Company Secretary any more. One person can do it all!

Share this post!