What is a Certificate of Incorporation and how can I get one?

In the UK, a Certificate of Incorporation is often your own bit of proof that you have your own incorporated business, writes chartered accountant Kevin Austin, managing director of Access Financial. Or as Companies House puts it, the certificate is:

“Conclusive evidence that the requirements of the Companies Act 2006 as to registration have been complied with, and that the company is duly registered under this Act.”

What does a Certificate of Incorporation say or contain?

The certificate will state at least five main things:

  • the name and registered number of the company
  • the date of its incorporation
  • whether it is a limited or unlimited company, and if it is limited whether it is limited by shares or limited by guarantee
  • whether it is a private or a public company
  • whether the company’s registered office is situated in England and Wales, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland

The certificate must be signed by the registrar or authenticated by the registrar’s official seal.

Why is the Certificate of Incorporation necessary?

Suppose you want to open a bank account or purchase a property or take out a loan.

In that case, your bank and solicitor will ask you for the Certificate of Incorporation as proof that your company is set up according to UK company law. Without it, you will not be able to do any of these things. Sometimes, your clients as a PSC contractor may ask you for a copy to satisfy themselves about your company too.

How can I get a digital copy of my businesses’ Certificate of Incorporation?

The quickest and easiest way to obtain a digital copy of your certificate of incorporation is to run a Google Web search of ‘Companies House,’ followed by your company’s name. Note, you should not include the word limited in the title, and not doing so should take you to the correct Companies House page, and then you need to click on the ‘Filing History’ tab. There, you will see several tick boxes, and you should click on ‘Incorporation.’ You can then download and print your certificate of incorporation without charge.

What about obtaining a hard copy of my Certificate of Incorporation?

To obtain a certified hard copy of your certificate of incorporation, you may do this in two ways. You can either call the Companies House contact centre on 0303 1234 500 or call in at one of Companies House information centres (located in Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London.)

There are usually two levels of service available - the standard and the same-day. 

Final considerations (includes covid!)

Due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, Companies House has suspended the same-day service until further notice. The standard service is still open, and Companies House aims to process orders within four working days. The certificate will be posted to you by Royal Mail Second Class delivery. The cost of the standard service is £15. The same-day service cost is £50.

Finally, and rather obviously, you must provide the name of your company and its registration number (CRN), together with payment which can be made using a debit or credit card.

Saturday 8th May 2021
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Written by Kevin Austin

Kevin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, a Fellow of the Association of International Accountants and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

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