You can register a company in a few minutes. To register a company you need to follow the following 5 simple steps to prepare:
- An original company name
- Company business sector (e.g. Restaurants)
- Number of company Directors & Shareholders (who will run and own the company)
- Adopt Model Articles of Association
- Open a Bank Account
You can get all of the above done with MachFast.com’s free simple app.
Please check out our guide on the Top 3 Ways to Register a Company for Free. If you are looking for more guidance on how to set up your business in addition to registering a company, check out the MachFast How To Set Up A Business Guide.
1. Register a Company with an original company name
When you register a company, the first step is finding the right name for your new limited company. Company names are similar to websites. You want to have an original company name that nobody else has registered yet. For example, you can’t name your company ‘IBM’ because that is already taken. There are 4.2mn registered companies in the UK with 670,000+ newly registered companies in 2019.
The good news is that MachFast.com makes finding a name for a new company super easy. The app will check if the name that you would like to use has been taken. You can read How to Find a Company Name when Registering a Company Guide for more help. The best names often tell your customers and stakeholders what you do. On the other hand, unique and nice sounding names such as ‘Google’ can be catchy and memorable.
We always recommend that when you are registering a company and want to have a unique name that is not related to your business, to bounce the idea off your friends and family to see what they think.
When looking for a company name when registering a company you must also be mindful of Sensitive Names. In the UK, there are a number of words that require special permissions to be used in a registered company name.
For example, you may only use ‘Royal’ or ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ in a company’s name if you have special permission.
For example, ‘King’s Cross Salad Bar’ would not be accepted as a company name because it contains the word ‘King’. Professional bodies or associations are also regulated. For example, you may use the word ‘Chartered’ in a company name only if you have a special permission.
By the way, you can always change your mind about your company’s name after you register a company. Companies House has a simple procedure on how to change your company name.
Of course, changing your registered company’s name should not be taken lightly. The more established your business is, the trickier it becomes to change the name. Your clients, users, banks, and stakeholders would need to be notified and you want to make sure that the switchover is done properly.
To learn more about changing your registered company’s name you can check out our How To Change Your Company’s Name Guide.
2. Pick the right Business Sector when Registering a Company.
When you register a company in the United Kingdom you need to pick a business sector. In plain English, that means you need to describe what your company is going to be doing. In the UK, you need to pick one of the pre-defined business sectors. These are called Standard Industrial Codes or ‘SIC’ for short. SIC stands for: Standard industrial classification of economic activities.
The good news is that the MachFast app makes this super easy. You can just type your business sector description. The app will find the closest sector that matches your description. If you get stuck then the app has different categories (such as ‘Consulting’) where you can quickly find the right sector. You may choose a number of business sectors for your newly registered company.
If you are curious, below we have the full business sector list. You can just click on the drop-down button and explore different sectors. You are welcome to email us with your sector exploration. We are keen to know in what sectors companies are starting businesses.
3. Number of Company Directors and Shareholders
When you register a UK limited company you must designate at least one Company Director.
Company directors are people who are responsible for the company’s compliance with the law and day-to-day operations. For most small business owners, you will almost always be your company’s director. The reason is simple, you are running the business, setting up the company and will be responsible for its operations.
Please note that you must be 16+ to be a UK company director. To read more about company directors check out our Who is a Company Director? guide.
You can always appoint new company directors and remove existing ones. Check out our Guide on Appointing & Removing Company Directors.
Company Directors are not necessarily employees of the company. If you are considering whether to become an employee of your company after the company’s registration, please speak to your accountant. We have written a basic Is a Director an Employee? Guide to help explain the difference.
Please note that when you register a company you need to provide the Director’s Service address. This is the address where directors get official post from Companies House and HMRC.
A UK limited company must have shareholders. Shareholders are the people who own the company. One of the benefits of registering a limited company is that you can have many shareholders. Or you may have just one shareholder.
Shareholders own the company through the ‘allotment of shares’. That means that when you register a company you will receive shares as a shareholder. These shares will entitle you to dividends and voting rights that determine how the company conducts its business and makes important business decisions.
You may issue different types of shares when registering a company. Most small businesses issue Ordinary Shares. To make your life easier, the MachFast App automatically creates 100 Ordinary Shares for each shareholder with a nominal value of £0.01.
This makes life easy for you when you register a company. You can change the number, the type of the shares and the nominal value in the app (if you would like a more complex set up). You can read more in our Issuing Shares When Registering a Company Guide.
By the way, you may always transfer your shares to others in the future. For example, you may want to sell your shares to investors, bring in new partners or sell your shares to the employees. Please always take legal and accounting advice on how to do this properly. This is a very advanced company management topic. Here is our Guide to the Stock Transfer Form.
For a one shareholder company, you may be considering whether to register a company or remain a Sole Trader. Check out our Sole Trader or Limited Company? Top 5 Questions to Consider. If you are wondering what the benefits of a Limited Company are when you are operating as a Sole Trader already, check out The Top 5 Limited Company Benefits Guide.
If you are setting up a company with more than one shareholder, you may want to consider signing a Shareholder Agreement between all the founding shareholders. This shareholder agreement will define how you work together and what happens in the event of a dispute. It is a positive agreement in that it sets out your expectations from each other as shareholders when you register a company.
We always recommend speaking with a legal professional to help you draft the Shareholders’ agreement. To help you with this, check out our What is a Shareholders Agreement? Guide.
Once your company is successfully registered you need to issue Share Certificate to your company’s shareholders. You can do so by printing these certificates using a normal desktop printer. Here is a simple What are Share Certificates? Guide.
4. Adopt Model Articles of Association
When you register a company you need to create your company’s Articles of Association. These articles define how your newly registered company will operate in practice.
For example, it will define how to take shareholder votes, how to call a meeting of shareholders, how to issue new shares in the company and many more basic ‘governance’ procedures.
For most small businesses in the UK, the government has created ‘Model Articles of Association’. These model articles contain basic rules for your company on how it should be managed in terms of its corporate actions (a fancy phrase for making company decisions). You may always change and amend the articles. Check out the MachFast Guide on How to Change Model Articles of Association.
If you are looking to set up a more complex company, then you may choose to create your own articles. We strongly recommend that you seek professional legal counsel if you decide to write your own Articles of Association.
You can check out Model Articles of Association by visiting the MachFast Model Articles Page. To take a deeper look and read more about the Model Articles, please see our What are Articles of Association? Guide.
5. Register a company and open a bank account
When you register a company you are not required to have a bank account in the United Kingdom. That does not mean that your company should not have a bank account.
In practice, if your newly registered company will be carrying out business, it will need a bank or business current account to send and receive money.
Historically, setting up a bank account for a newly registered company has been painful. During the Covid pandemic, many high street banks closed their doors completely to newly registered companies.
Typically, opening a business bank accounts involves filling out many forms, potentially having a physical interview at a bank and waiting weeks and sometimes months to get the account opened.
MachFast makes opening a bank account easy when you register a company. During the quick registration process, the app will ask if you would like to open an account for your company (before the company is even registered). If you say yes, then you answer a few questions and you are done.
When your company is registered, MachFast will instantly submit your account application. In most cases, your newly registered company will have an instant account and you can start receiving and sending money. You can read more in our Guide on How to Open a Business Account.
To use the MachFast app to register a company you must be a UK resident. If you are not a UK resident, please read our Guide on How to Open A Bank Account if you are Not a Resident.