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Companies House: UK official register of companies

Companies House, the official register of companies in the UK, provides a comprehensive suite of digital services including the Beta Service, WebFiling, Check, and Direct. The article delves into the specifics of user registration, login procedures, search functionalities, and the nuances of filing various documents with Companies House.

The Companies House: what is it

Companies House is an executive agency of the UK Government, functioning under the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. Established in 1844, it is tasked with the registration, incorporation, and dissolution of limited liability partnerships and companies in the United Kingdom and Wales. Serving as a public record, Companies House maintains up-to-date information on all companies registered in the UK, making it an essential resource for public, corporate, and governmental analysis.

The primary objective of Companies House is to ensure legal compliance by companies and partnerships with statutory filing requirements. This includes the submission of annual accounts, company reports, and various other necessary documentation. By doing so, Companies House plays a critical role in enhancing corporate transparency and accountability, fostering a more reliable and trustworthy business environment in the UK.

In addition to its regulatory functions, Companies House offers a plethora of services to the public. These services include providing access to company data, facilitating the digital filing of company information, and offering guidance on setting up and managing companies. Its extensive database is a valuable tool for researchers, investors, and policymakers, offering insights into the corporate landscape of the UK.

Companies House jurisdictions and locations

Companies House operates within distinct jurisdictions in the United Kingdom, with each jurisdiction having its own dedicated office that addresses the unique legal and administrative requirements of that region. The primary jurisdictions and their respective Companies House offices are as follows:

  • England and Wales: The Cardiff office serves as the Companies House for England and Wales. This office ensures that businesses comply with the Companies Act 2006 and other relevant legislation specific to England and Wales. It handles all company registrations, filings, and legal compliance matters for companies operating in these regions.
  • Scotland: Companies House in Edinburgh caters to companies based in Scotland. This office ensures compliance with Scottish corporate law, which can differ in certain respects from the laws in England and Wales. It manages all aspects of company registration, filings, and regulatory compliance within the Scottish legal framework.
  • Northern Ireland: The Belfast office is responsible for companies in Northern Ireland. It operates under the legal jurisdiction unique to Northern Ireland, handling company registrations and ensuring adherence to both local and national corporate laws that are specific to Northern Ireland.

Additionally, there has historically been a presence in London, primarily for offering information and support services, rather than for registration purposes. This office facilitates easier access for businesses and legal practitioners based in and around the capital.

Each regional office is equipped to guide and assist companies in meeting the specific legal requirements of their respective jurisdictions. This ensures a tailored approach to company registration and regulation, acknowledging the diverse legal, economic, and administrative landscapes across the UK.

What Companies House branch should I use?

The Companies House branch you should use depends on the location of your business:

  • If your business is in England or Wales, use the Companies House office in Cardiff.
  • If your business is in Scotland, use the Edinburgh office.
  • If your business is in Northern Ireland, use the Belfast office.

Types of companies registered at the Company House

Companies House in the United Kingdom is responsible for the registration and management of various types of companies and partnerships. Each type caters to different business needs and complies with specific legal requirements. The primary categories of entities registered at Companies House include:

  • Private Limited Companies (Ltd): These are the most common type of incorporation in the UK. They are owned by shareholders and operated by directors, with the liability of shareholders limited to their investment. These companies cannot offer shares to the public.
  • Public Limited Companies (PLC): PLCs also have limited liability but can raise capital by selling shares to the public. They are subject to higher regulatory standards and are often larger than private limited companies.
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP): LLPs blend elements of partnerships and limited companies. They provide partners with limited liability and offer flexibility in management, along with certain tax benefits.
  • Guarantee Companies: These are not-for-profit companies limited by guarantee rather than shares. They are commonly used by charities, community projects, clubs, or societies.
  • Unlimited Companies: These are less common and feature no limitation on the liability of their members. They are typically chosen for specific financial or legal reasons.
  • Overseas Companies: Companies House registers branches and places of business of non-UK companies that operate within the UK. These entities must meet specific filing and regulatory requirements.
  • Sole Proprietorships: While typically registered with HMRC for tax purposes, sole traders may choose to register as a limited company with Companies House, especially when seeking to limit personal liability or transition their business structure.

Each type of company or partnership registered at Companies House has its own set of features, advantages, and legal obligations, addressing the needs of a diverse range of business activities. Companies House ensures the adherence of these entities to the corporate laws and regulations of the UK.


Companies House offers essential services focusing on three core areas:

  1. Digital Filing and Registration: This includes online platforms for the submission of statutory documents and the incorporation of new companies. It streamlines processes like annual filings, company registration, and legal compliance.
  2. Public Information Access: Providing open access to company data, these services allow the public to search and retrieve information about UK-registered companies, enhancing transparency and aiding research.
  3. Monitoring and Compliance Support: Offering tools for monitoring company activities and changes, alongside guidance to help businesses understand and fulfill legal obligations. This includes services for tracking company updates and accessing necessary corporate governance resources.

These services collectively support the business ecosystem in the UK, aiding in regulatory compliance, transparent business operations, and informed decision-making.

Below is a detailed list of these services, providing insights into how each one supports the core areas of digital filing and registration, public information access, and monitoring and compliance support.

Companies House Beta Service

The Companies House Beta Service, commonly known as CHS Beta, is a significant digital platform provided by Companies House. It’s part of the UK government’s initiative to modernize public services, making them more accessible and efficient.

CHS Beta offers several key features:

  • Company Name Search
    Search for companies by their registered name
  • Company Registration Number (CRN) Search
    Directly find companies using their unique Company Registration Number
  • Officer Name Search
    Look up company officers (directors, secretaries) by name to see their company affiliations
  • SIC Code Search
    Search for companies based on their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code, indicating their primary business activities
  • Date of Incorporation Search
    Find companies based on their incorporation date
  • Disqualified Director Search
    Search for individuals disqualified from acting as company directors
  • Location-Based Search
    Locate companies by their registered office address
  • Filing History Search
    Access a company’s complete filing history to track submissions and changes over time
  • Insolvency Information Search
    Find information on any insolvency proceedings involving a company
  • Document Viewing
    View and download official documents filed by companies, such as financial statements and director reports

The platform is designed to be user-friendly with an intuitive interface, ensuring ease of navigation and information retrieval. It continuously evolves based on user feedback.

CHS Beta is particularly useful for various stakeholders, including investors, researchers, and business owners, providing them with comprehensive and up-to-date information about UK-registered companies. It promotes transparency in the business environment by making company data widely accessible.

Users can access CHS Beta easily online without the need to sign in, provide personal data, or pay. The service is available for free to all users, and data can be requested even via voice services like Alexa.

For individuals listed as directors or persons with significant control in UK-registered companies, certain personal details are made public. However, there are provisions to request the removal of personal addresses from public view under specific circumstances, like safety concerns.

CHS Beta represents a step towards creating a fully digital platform for business-related services, continuously adding new features as part of the digital transformation process of Companies House.

Companies House Webfiling

The Companies House WebFiling service is a convenient online platform enabling companies to electronically submit a range of statutory documents. This service enhances the efficiency and accuracy of the filing process.

Types of Documents You Can Submit

  • Company Incorporation and Name Changes:
    • Incorporation of private companies limited by shares or guarantee
    • Notice of change of company name
  • Accounts and Financial Statements:
    • Micro-entity and dormant company accounts (except for Community Interest Companies or LLPs)
    • Change of accounting reference date
    • Audit exempt small full accounts
    • Audit exempt abbreviated accounts
  • Company Management and Structure:
    • Confirmation statements
    • Return of allotment of shares
    • Changes to company directors and secretaries
    • Changes to registered office addresses
  • Officers and People with Significant Control (PSC):
    • Appointments and terminations of directors and secretaries
    • Changes in particulars for directors and secretaries
    • Notices and changes related to PSCs
  • Charges (Mortgages and Debts):
    • Registration and satisfaction of charges
  • Company Closures:
    • Applications to strike off a company from the register
  • Other Transactions:
    • Various updates and notifications related to company operations and management

Eligibility and Requirements

Who Can Use WebFiling?
  • Companies with all-digit company numbers (e.g., 1020304) or prefixes like NI, R0, SC for Limited Companies, and OC, SO, NC for LLPs.

WebFiling cannot be used in certain situations, particularly for companies or LLPs that are:

  • Dissolved, converted, or closed.
  • With complex share structures or a high number of shareholders

In particular, there are certain scenarios where the WebFiling service may not be applicable, including:

  • Large Shareholder Base: Companies that have more than 1000 shareholders.
  • Currency Variations in Capital: Companies whose paid or unpaid capital is denominated in a currency different from that of their share class.
  • Subsidiary Reporting Requirements: Companies with subsidiaries that are unable to submit their annual returns through the online system.
  • Extensive Record Modifications: Companies needing to execute more than 255 amendments to their listing in a single session.

These limitations are in place due to the complexities involved in processing these specific scenarios through the WebFiling system. Companies facing such situations may need to use alternative filing methods.

Security and Authentication
  • Secure authentication codes are required for filing, acting as digital signatures
  • The PROOF (Protected Online Filing) service adds an extra layer of security against unauthorized changes
Registration Process
  • Users must create a WebFiling account and obtain an authentication code to file on behalf of a company
  • The service is available 24/7, subject to essential maintenance
  • Filing fees vary, with online filing typically being more cost-effective than paper submissions

The WebFiling service streamlines the process of submitting and updating company information, providing a secure, efficient, and user-friendly platform for businesses.

For more detailed information and access to the service, visit Companies House WebFiling.

Companies House Check

The Companies House Check Service, officially titled “Find and update company information”, serves as a comprehensive portal for accessing and updating public records of UK-incorporated companies. This digital service aims to ensure transparency and accountability within the UK’s business environment by making company information readily accessible to the public. It’s a key resource for individuals and businesses seeking detailed insights about companies, their financial status, and corporate governance.

Eligibility for use

  • Open to the Public: The service is available to anyone, free of charge. There are no specific eligibility criteria for accessing the information.
  • 24/7 Availability: Generally, the service is accessible around the clock, making it convenient for users to retrieve information at any time.

Functions and Requests users can make

  • Company Search
    Users can search for companies using the company name, registration number, location, and date of incorporation. It offers an advanced search function for more specific queries
  • Accessing Company Details
    The service provides detailed information, including registered addresses, current and resigned officers, and incorporation dates
  • Viewing Filing History
    Users can access and download a company’s filing history, including confirmation statements, accounts, and other key documents
  • Monitoring Company Officers and PSCs
    Information about the officers and people with significant control (PSC) over a company is available, along with their correspondence addresses
  • Company Snapshot and Document Orders
    The service offers a snapshot of the latest company activities and the option to order certified documents
  • Following a Company
    Users can sign up to receive email alerts about specific companies, keeping track of their filings and any significant changes
  • Filing Documents
    For registered users, the service allows the filing of certain documents such as accounts and changes to the registered office address

While the service provides a wealth of information, it’s important to note that Companies House does not verify the accuracy of the information filed by companies. The primary role of Companies House in this context is to ensure that the information is made available to the public.

For more information and to use the service, visit Find and update company information on the GOV.UK website.

Companies House name check

The Companies House Name Check function is a specific feature within the Companies House Check Service. It’s designed to help prospective business owners and entrepreneurs verify the availability of a desired company name before registering a new company.

Main functionalities are the followings:

  • Name Availability Search
    Users can input a proposed company name to check if it’s already in use or too similar to an existing name on the register. This is crucial to ensure that the new company name complies with the naming regulations set by Companies House
  • Similar Name Alert
    The system alerts users if the proposed name is too similar to existing names, helping to avoid potential legal challenges or confusion
  • Guidance on Naming Conventions
    The service also provides guidance on acceptable naming conventions, including restrictions on certain words and phrases

Importance of Name Checking:

  • Legal Compliance
    Ensures compliance with UK company law regarding company naming
  • Brand Identity Protection
    Helps in establishing a unique brand identity and prevents potential trademark or intellectual property conflicts

For businesses and individuals planning to start a new company, using the Companies House Name Check is a critical first step in the registration process. It helps in making an informed decision about the company name, aligning with legal requirements and branding strategies.

To use the Companies House Name Check, visit the Companies House service on the GOV.UK website.

Companies House Direct

Companies House Direct (CHD) was a service provided by Companies House that offered access to company information and documents. However, as per the recent announcements by Companies House, both the Companies House Direct (CHD) and WebCHeck services are scheduled to close on November 30, 2023.

Following this closure, the services offered by CHD and WebCHeck are being integrated into the newer “Find and Update” service (titled “Companies House Check” on this page). This new service provides several functionalities that were previously part of Companies House Direct, such as:

  • Advanced company searches
  • Access to information about dissolved companies
  • The ability to generate company snapshot reports
  • An alphabetical search feature for company names
  • Facilities for ordering certificates of incorporation, change of name documents, certified documents, and retrieving missing images

The “Find and Update” service is designed to be fully accessible and aims to replace the majority of the functionalities provided by CHD and WebCHeck, enhancing the user experience with a more streamlined and integrated approach.

For users who regularly accessed Companies House Direct, it is important to familiarize themselves with the new “Find and Update” service before the closure of CHD and WebCHeck to ensure a smooth transition and continued access to necessary company information and services.

For more detailed information, you can visit the Companies House announcement on GOV.UK dated 30 March 2023.

Companies House: user registration and login

Overview of Registration

Registering as a user with Companies House is a fundamental step for accessing various online services, including filing documents and retrieving company information. This registration process ensures secure and personalized access to the services offered.

Steps for user registration

  1. Creating an account
    • To start, visit the Companies House website and select the option to create a new account
    • Enter required details such as your email address. Providing a name and mobile number is optional but recommended for a more personalized experience
  2. Email verification
    • After submitting your email address, check your inbox for a verification email from Companies House
    • Click the link in the email to verify your email address and proceed with the registration
  3. Setting a password
    • Create a secure password following the guidelines provided by Companies House. This password will be used along with your email for future logins
  4. Completion and confirmation
    • Once the password is set, your account creation process is complete
    • You will receive a confirmation, and you can now use your Companies House login credentials to access various services

Authentication for Filing Documents

  1. Obtaining an authentication code
    • If you intend to file documents for a company, you will need an authentication code
    • This code acts as a digital signature and is necessary for the submission of most documents
  2. Requesting the code
    • The authentication code can be requested through the Companies House WebFiling service
    • It is typically sent to the registered company address, but alternate arrangements can be made if needed
  3. Security of the authentication code
    • Treat the authentication code with the same level of security as a personal bank PIN
    • The code is confidential and should not be shared indiscriminately

Login Process

  1. Accessing the login page
    • Visit the Companies House login page
    • Enter your registered email address and the password you created during registration
  2. Logging In
    • After entering your credentials, you will gain access to your Companies House account
    • From here, you can access a variety of services, manage your company information, file documents, and more

User Support

  • Help and Support: For any difficulties during registration or login, Companies House provides user support, including FAQs and direct assistance
  • Password Reset: If you forget your password, you can easily reset it through the login page

Registering and logging in to Companies House is straightforward and opens up a wide range of functionalities for managing company affairs efficiently and securely.

Companies House Search

In previous sections, we discussed various platforms available through Companies House, each designed for specific purposes. This block focuses on guiding users who need to perform searches related to UK-registered companies but are unsure which platform best suits their specific search needs.

Platforms for Specific Searches

  1. Companies House Beta Service:
    • Ideal For: Basic company inquiries, including information like company name, registration number, officer details, and filing history
    • Access: Companies House Beta Service
  2. Companies House WebFiling:
  3. Companies House ‘Find and Update’ Service:
    • Ideal For: Conducting detailed searches on company information. It includes advanced search functionalities like dissolved company searches, alphabetical name searches, and access to company snapshot reports
    • Access: Find and Update Company Information

Specific Search Guidance

  • For general company information
    Use the Beta Service or the ‘Find and Update’ service for quick access to basic details and recent filings
  • For detailed company histories and documents
    The ‘Find and Update’ service provides in-depth access to a company’s filing history and downloadable documents
  • For company name checks
    WebFiling is suitable for checking and reserving company names for new businesses
  • For research on dissolved companies
    Utilize the ‘Find and Update’ service’s feature that specifically caters to searches for dissolved companies
  • For ongoing company monitoring
    The ‘Find and Update’ service offers the functionality to follow companies, providing updates on filings and other significant changes

Selecting the appropriate platform for your specific search requirement is crucial for efficiently obtaining accurate and relevant information from Companies House. Whether you need general company information, detailed filing histories, or need to monitor ongoing changes in a company, Companies House offers tailored solutions across its different platforms.

Documents to present to Companies House

The initial registration of a company involves several key documents that define its legal structure, governance, and operational framework.

On First Registration

This stage requires foundational documents, each serving a distinct purpose in the company’s formation. These include the Certificate of Incorporation, Articles of Association, and Memorandum of Association. These documents collectively establish the company’s legal identity, operational rules, and objectives.

Articles of Association

This document serves as the company’s constitution, outlining the rules governing its operation. It includes how decisions are made, the powers of directors, shareholder rights, and guidelines for running the company.

Certificate of Incorporation

This is the official document that marks the formation of the company. It includes key details such as the company’s name, registration number, and the date it was incorporated, legally recognizing the company’s existence.

Memorandum of Association

This document defines the company’s structure and objectives. It includes the names of the initial shareholders (or guarantors) and their agreement to form the company. It sets out the company’s purpose and the extent of the members’ liabilities.

Form IN01

Form IN01 is used for the initial registration of a private or public company in the UK. This comprehensive form includes:

  • The proposed name of the company
  • The type of company (private or public)
  • The address of the company’s registered office
  • Details of the company’s officers, including directors and secretaries
  • A statement of capital if the company has share capital
  • Information about individuals or entities with significant control over the company
  • The company’s intended business activities, indicated by its Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code

Recurring Documents

After a company is successfully registered, it must regularly submit certain documents to Companies House. These recurring documents are crucial for maintaining legal compliance and keeping the public record updated with the company’s current operational and financial status.

Annual Confirmation Statement (Form CS01)

Confirms the accuracy of the company’s recorded information, including details on directors, shareholders, and people with significant control.

Annual Accounts

Financial statements filed each year to provide transparency about the company’s financial performance and position.

Changes to the company’s details

Throughout its lifecycle, a company may undergo various changes that need to be formally reported to Companies House. This includes changes in company structure, directorship, share allocation, and other significant amendments. Timely updating of these details is vital for legal compliance and accuracy of public records.

  • Appointment of a Director (Form AP01)
    Used to appoint a new director to the company
  • Appointment of a Company Secretary (Form AP03)
    For appointing a company secretary, detailing their role and responsibilities
  • Change of Director’s Details (Form CH01)
    To update details such as a director’s address or other personal information
  • Removal of a Director (Form TM01)
    Filed to remove a director from the company’s official records
  • Change of Registered Office (Form AD01)
    Reports a change in the company’s registered office address
  • Allotment of Shares (Form SH01 – Includes Statement of Capital)
    Used for the allotment of new shares, including a statement of capital
  • Mortgage or Charge on the Company’s Property (Form MG01, MG01S in Scotland)
    To register a mortgage or charge against the company’s property
  • Change of Accounting Reference Date (Form AA01)
    Filed to change the company’s accounting reference date


How to close a company on companies house?

To close a company registered with Companies House, you typically need to follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the Company is Eligible: The company should be free from trading, debt, and legal proceedings for at least three months.
  2. DS01 Form: Complete and submit the DS01 form, ‘Striking off application by a company’.
  3. Notify Interested Parties: Within seven days of filing the DS01 form, inform relevant parties like employees, creditors, and shareholders about the intent to close the company.
  4. Settle Any Outstanding Issues: Clear all company debts and distribute any remaining assets to shareholders.
  5. Await Confirmation: Companies House will review your application and, if accepted, publish a notice in the Gazette allowing for objections. If there are no objections, the company will be struck off the register.

Are sole traders on companies house?

Sole traders, also known as sole proprietorships, are not typically registered with Companies House. Companies House is responsible for the registration and regulation of limited companies and partnerships. Sole traders are usually self-employed individuals and their business affairs are registered with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes, rather than with Companies House. Therefore, if you’re a sole trader, you won’t have a record or need to register with Companies House.

What are charges on companies house?

In the context of Companies House, “charges” refer to the financial securities that a company grants on its assets. These are typically created when a company takes out a loan or credit and offers its assets as collateral. The details of these charges, such as mortgages or debentures, are registered with Companies House. This registration provides public notice of the security interest a creditor holds against the company’s assets, ensuring transparency in the company’s financial dealings. Companies must file specific forms to register a new charge or to notify of the satisfaction (repayment) of an existing charge.

How to change address on companies house?

To change the registered office address of a company on Companies House, you need to submit Form AD01. This can be done either through the WebFiling service on the Companies House website or by sending a paper form. The change must be reported within 14 days of it taking effect. Once the form is submitted and processed, the new address will be updated on the public register. It’s important to ensure that the new address is effective for receiving official communications and legal notices.

How to change sic code on companies house?

To change the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code for a company registered with Companies House, you must file a Confirmation Statement (Form CS01). The Confirmation Statement is used to confirm and update key information about the company, including the SIC code. You can submit the CS01 form either online via the Companies House WebFiling service or by post. When completing the form, you’ll have the opportunity to update the SIC code to the new one that accurately represents the current nature of the company’s business activities.

How to change correspondence address on companies house?

To change the correspondence address for directors, secretaries, or people with significant control (PSC) on Companies House, you need to file the appropriate form:

  1. For Directors: Use Form CH01 (for an individual director) or CH02 (for a corporate director).
  2. For Secretaries: Use Form CH03 (for an individual secretary) or CH04 (for a corporate secretary).
  3. For People with Significant Control: Use Form PSC04.

These forms can be submitted online using the Companies House WebFiling service. It’s important to update these details promptly to ensure that all communications reach the relevant individuals.

How to file accounts with companies house?

To file accounts with Companies House, you have a few options:

  1. WebFiling: Use the Companies House WebFiling service. You’ll need to log in with your company authentication code
  2. Software Filing: Some companies use specialized software that is compatible with Companies House for account filing
  3. Paper Filing: Although less common now, you can still file accounts in paper form. This method might have longer processing times

Ensure that your accounts are prepared in accordance with the relevant financial reporting standards and filed by the statutory deadline to avoid penalties.

How to remove a director from companies house?

To remove a director from a company registered with Companies House, you should submit Form TM01. This form notifies Companies House of the termination of a director’s appointment. It can be filed online using the Companies House WebFiling service or as a paper form. The removal becomes effective in the public record once processed by Companies House.

How to change company name on companies house?

To change a company’s name on Companies House, you need to:

  1. Pass a resolution for the name change.
  2. Complete and submit Form NM01.
  3. Include a copy of the resolution with the form.

This can be done either online via the Companies House WebFiling service or by submitting a paper form. The change will be effective once approved and registered by Companies House.

How to change shares on companies house?

To change the share structure of a company on Companies House, you must file Form SH01, ‘Return of Allotment of Shares’. This form is used when a company issues new shares and needs to update its share capital information. You can submit the form either online through the Companies House WebFiling service or as a paper form. It’s important to include details such as the number of shares, share types, and the nominal value of each share.

Companies House: UK official register of companies

Companies House: what is the official register of companies in the United Kingdom

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