There’s a lot to think about when setting up a business, whether you’re a sole trader or opening a limited company. You will need to tell HMRC that you’re self-employed and operating as a sole trader so that you can fill in Self-Assessment tax returns and pay the right amount of tax you owe.
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.
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’ll still need to register with HMRC as a company director for Self-Assessment though.
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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.
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About The Author
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.