What is a Certificate of Incorporation?

  • 4 min read

A certificate of incorporation, in the UK, is the document verifying that your company has been legally registered. It contains the relevant identification numbers for your business to begin trading.

The thought of registering a company may seem daunting at first: endless paperwork, tons of filing and innumerable business documents. Don’t fear. At MachFast we make it very simple. With an intuitive design, you can set up a company in under 10 minutes.

Although we will help with the majority of the paperwork, it is still important to understand the key documents. Today we’ll focus on one of those documents: the certificate of incorporation.

When do you get your Certificate of Incorporation and what does it contain?

Once you have formed your company, Companies House issues the certificate of incorporation that certifies your company as a legal entity. The certificate of incorporation is a legal document that outlines the key information of your company:

  • Company’s registered name
  • Company registration number (CRN) (for information about your CRN, such as  location, go to the Companies House search)
  • Company registration location (This will be one of four countries in the UK)
  • Incorporation date
  • Company Form (limited by shares, limited by guarantee etc.)
  • Issuing Registrar
  • Legislation under which the incorporation has been formed
  • Registrar of Companies official seal
  • Royal Coat of Arms

When do you need to use your Certificate of Incorporation?

Using your certificate of incorporation is an often irregular requirement, however, there are a number of instances where you may need to produce it.

If you are not registering through MachFast, then a certificate of incorporation may be requested when you start your business current account as the bank requires legal evidence of your company.

As a rule of thumb, your certificate of incorporation will be used for many monetary exchanges or any type of funding. This may include selling shares to investors, acquiring a loan or registering for overseas tax. 

Often you won’t need to provide your certificate of incorporation as your company name and registration number often suffice to prove the legality of your company.

Retrieving a Lost Certificate of Incorporation

Luckily today, certificates of incorporation are online. When registering with MachFast you will be sent your certificate of incorporation over email. If you can’t find it there, then there will be an online certificate of incorporation once you sign into Companies House Web Filing.

If you want to replace the physical copy that you may have lost, then you should phone or email Companies House to request a replacement. You’ll need to provide your company name and registration number.

What if you Change your Company Name?

When your company name is changed, Companies House will automatically provide you with an updated version of your certificate of incorporation. It is important to note that you should keep both the new and old certificate of incorporation at your company’s registered office.

During your company formation, a number of documents and numbers will be thrust upon you. If you are not using MachFast, which automatically files these online, be sure to create an efficient filing system to keep track of them. It’s imperative that you familiarise yourself with the numbers and documents below to avoid confusion with your certificate of incorporation:

  • Unique taxpayer reference (UTR): this is a 10 digit number used to identify your company for tax purposes. Understand your UTR number further with our blog.
  • Company Registration Number: an 8 digit number used to identify your company and is issued by Companies House during registration.
  • VAT number: A 9 digit number with GB prefix. This number is only issued for companies that are registered for VAT and works similarly to a UTR but for VAT tax.
  • Employer reference number: This alphanumeric identification consists of 3 digits, which identify the tax office that deals with your company’s PAYE, then a forward slash and the identity of the tax office’s employer reference. The structure will look like: 756/GD897. This is issued to companies who have implemented pay as you earn (PAYE) for their employees.

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