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How To Register Your Business Name In The UK

Starting a new business or deciding to register your business is exciting but can also be a daunting time. At The GoodBiz Co, we are here to make your journey a little less confusing.

We often get lots of questions about new business set up and what is involved in the process.

This article is for registering your business as a Limited Company in the UK. Whether you are a brand new business or have been self-employed and now want to go Limited, this is for you.

What are the benefits of registering a business name?

Setting up a Limited Company can bring lots of benefits, especially if you want to grow and expand your company.

Some of the benefits are listed below:

  • When you register a company name, it is protected and cannot be used by any other limited company.

  • Limited liability - as a shareholder, your personal finances are protected.

  • Tax - you are likely to pay less personal tax than a self employed sole trader.

How do I choose a business name?

If you haven't chosen your business name, here are some tips to help you choose. If you have your name ready, scroll down to the next section.

Our biggest tip before finalising your business name is to take the time and do some research first. Make sure no one else is using the same name. We would say this is probably the most time-consuming and can be the most frustrating part. You think you have a name and then find someone else has it!

Your business name should be unique, memorable and represent your brand.

Where to check your new business name:

  • Companies House - use their company name availability checker. This will prevent any legal issues, should you use a name the same as another fully established business!

  • Google - type in your business name idea and see what comes up. If another business has the same name, chances are they will also have a website with the domain name taken (see bullet point below on domain name search).

  • Social media platforms - Check every social media platform that you are planning to use for your business.

  • Domain name search - Finally, check and register your business domain name*. We always recommend taking the and .com as these are the most commonly used web extensions. Even if you are only using one of them, you don't want to risk someone buying one of these if they decide to use the same name as you. This happened to us with the and whoever purchased it, tried to sell it to us for thousands of pounds. We waited patiently until the domain expired and got it for less than £10...result but lesson learned!

*if you register your business via 1st Formations (see info below), you will get a free business domain name and business bank account.

Do I need a registered office address?

You will need a registered office address that is an address in the UK. Don't worry if you don't have one and do not want to use your own private address. You can pay for the use of a registered office address.

Note, as of 4th March 2024, companies can no longer use a PO Box as a registered office address, even if they provide the full postal address.  

Registered office addresses are included in most of the 1st Formations packages when you register your company using their service.

What information do I need to register my company?

Information you will need for your Companies House registration:

  • Details of all company officers (directors and secretaries)

  • Details of all shareholders

Details include full name, residential address, occupation, date of birth and nationality.

A company limited by shares must have at least one shareholder, who can be a director. If you're the only shareholder, you'll own 100% of the company.

If there is more than one director/shareholder, you may wish to have a Shareholder's Agreement drawn up. This sort of agreement is optional but will outline the shareholders right, their obligations to the company and the relationship between them. Other things it will ask you is how many shares will the company have. This can honestly be any number you like, it could be 1, it could 3,826 if that's what you wanted... most people go for 100, as that is then easy to share a percentage either now or in the future. We helped one business set up a company with 300 shares because there was going to be 3 equal partners.

Off the back of the number of shares it will ask you the value, since it is a new company it is better to have a very low value, eg £0.10 or £1 a share. This is what your total financial liability will be limited to (hence the term limited liability), so if you have 100 shares worth £0.10 each, your total liability will be £10 ... and not your house.

The other thing it will ask you about shares is what type... at this stage go for ordinary. If you are setting this up as a simple owner operator, or there is 2 or 3 of you that has equal rights then all you need is 'Ordinary Shares' ... there are other share types such as non-voting, dividend only, but we can go into that on another article. When starting up, if you need more than Ordinary Shares then it would probably be better to talk to a specialist so they can make sure you have a contract set up with whoever has different types of shares.

How do I register a business name?

You've got your business name, registered address and all the details required for registration. Now you are ready to register your business.

As well as registering your business name with Companies House, you will need to register with HMRC (for corporation tax purposes). If you are planning on employing staff, you will also need to register for PAYE. You can also register for VAT too (if required).

Don't worry - it's not as daunting as it seems. We can help you through every step of the way! Use our chat service below to ask any questions you may have along your journey.

Using HMRC to register your company

You can register via HMRC's Register your company service*, where you can register with Companies House and Corporation Tax at the same time. You can also use the service to register for PAYE too (if you are planning on employing staff).

Note, before you use the above HMRC service, you will need to create a Government Gateway user ID and password for your company when you register it. You cannot use your personal Government Gateway ID.

Cost to register with Companies House - £50 (from 1st May 2024)

Cost to register for Corporation Tax, PAYE etc - FREE

Important company information you will receive and should store safely:

  • Company registration no (Companies House)

  • Company Unique Tax Payers Reference (HMRC)

  • Company Government Gateway ID and password (HMRC)

We use and would recommend Zoho Vault for storing important business logins and passwords.

Using an agent to register your company

1st Formations is the UK's leading company formation agent. They walk you through the entire company formation process, from picking your company name, address services to sending your application to Companies House.

This is the service that we use and would highly recommend.

They have different packages for you to choose from and can include a registered office address, VAT registration, PAYE registration and more. With every package, you will get a free business bank account and a free domain name! Click here to find package that suits your business needs.

If you register your business using 1st Formations, you will need to register for Corporation Tax too. To register, you will need your company’s Government Gateway user ID and password* to sign in and your company’s 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR). The UTR is posted to your company address by HMRC within 14 days of the company being registered with Companies House.

*Note, before you use the above HMRC service, you will need to create a Government Gateway user ID and password for your company when you register it. You cannot use your personal Government Gateway ID.

Remember - you need to register for Corporation Tax within 3 months of starting to do business.

What else do I need once I am registered?

Once you are registered, you may want to think about all the other important aspects of running a business (if you haven't already done so) including:

  • Business bank account - there are lots of free business banking options out there. We have used Tide and Monzo and found these easy to set up.

  • Accounting software - check out Zoho Book's FREE accounting plan - perfect for start ups. There are plans for every size business so you can upgrade your plan as you grow.

  • Website - depending on your business needs, we recommend Wix for an easy to set up website that has lots of templates to choose from.

  • Business email - get 5 free business email addresses with Zoho. (It's free if you use their email app.)

  • Funding/grants - our partner Swoop will search and sift through thousands of providers on your behalf. Discover the best matches tailored to your business. You only to need to fill in their form once - a massive time saver!

Don't forget, once you have registered your business, you need to keep the legal records up to date. If you have created the company and you are not quite ready to trade, you need to let HMRC know it is not trading so you don't get chased for the year end accounts, and you still have to inform Companies House once a year that the current details such as shareholders, directors and address etc are still correct or you risk having your company dissolved.

How do I grow my business once I'm set up?

Not sure where to go next or how to grow your business? Putting the right things in place from the offset is what will help you grow your business faster.

No matter what stage you are with your business, our proven Business Freedom Framework programme which starts with your 'Business Operating System' can help your businesses grow successfully.

Check out our project files for some case studies >> here <<

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