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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.

Read our guide to Registering as a Sole Trader to get started.

What is Companies House?

All limited companies must register with Companies House, who will make the company information publicly available on their website. This means companies must provide the details of who their shareholders and directors are, as well as file a copy of their annual financial 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 take dividends as a shareholder, and need to pay dividend tax on them.


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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 register your company you will need to register either online or by post. Doing it online is quicker and cheaper. It costs £12 and your company is usually registered within 24 hours. Watch our video about incorporating a limited company if you’re already in business as a sole trader.


If you do it by post, you’ll need to fill out a IN01 form. This method takes longer, usually between 8 and 10 days and will cost you £40. This will need to be made out in a cheque to Companies House.

To speed the process up and get your company registered on the same day, you’ll need to get your application in to Companies House by 3pm and pay a £100 charge. You will also have to mark your envelope as “same day service” in the top left hand corner.

After registering, you’ll get a Certificate of Incorporation which confirms your company exists legally. It will also show your company number and the date of formation, both of which will be important for 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 Bruce

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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