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There’s a lot to think about when setting up a business, whether you’re a sole trader or opening a limited company. As a sole trader you will need to register for Self Assessment so that HMRC know you’re self-employed, and so you can submit tax returns to declare your earnings.

But do you need to register with Companies House? The quick answer is that no, a sole trader business does not need to register with Companies House in order to become self-employed.

What is Companies House?

Companies House is the organisation responsible for collating and maintaining information about businesses such as limited companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs).

All limited companies in the UK are required to register with Companies House. Information about the business (and its shareholders and directors) will be made publicly available on the company register, along with company’s annual accounts.

Does that include sole traders?

Sole traders don’t need to register with Companies House, only those who want to operate as a company need to register. If you set up a company you might still need to register for Self Assessment if you have untaxed income you need to report, such as dividends you receive as a shareholder which you need to pay dividend tax on.


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So how do I register as a limited company?

If you change your mind and decide that you’d rather operate as a limited company, then you will need to register with Companies House as soon as possible. You will need to register within three months of starting your business in order to be trading legally.

In order to incorporate your company you will need to register either online or by post. Online registration tends to be faster (and cheaper), with postal applications typically taking between 8 to 10 days. There’s also a same-day service available for a fee.

Watch our video about incorporating a limited company if you’re already in business as a sole trader.

After registering, you’ll receive a Certificate of Incorporation which confirms your company legally exists. It will also show your company number and the date of formation, both of which will be important when you file your tax returns so keep it safe.

Talk to us using the Live Chat button on screen, ask for a callback, call 020 3355 4047 or get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Beth-Anne Karellen

I'm an experienced and fully AAT and ACCA qualified accountant, who is enthusiastic about helping business owners succeed. I also love cooking and needlepoint (at different times!). Learn more about Beth.

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7th April 2023 3:06 am

Thank you for this information.. I own a small radio station and wondering which avenue to go down.

I’m thinking social enterprise

Elizabeth Hughes
Elizabeth Hughes
11th April 2023 8:45 am

Hi Steven

You’re welcome! Do let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.

Best wishes


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