step by step

Forming a company may be simpler than you think. Our 5-step guide is designed to take you through the formation process up to the end of your first year of trading, making sure you know everything you are required to do in your company's first 12 months.

step 1 - making a name for yourself

Choosing your company name is a very important decision. Not only must it make a statement about your business, but it must be a unique name that is not already listed at Companies House.

When you are thinking of a company name, you should be aware that there are some words that are restricted. Click here for more information on sensitive words.

You will also need to make sure that you have a registered office. This will be the legal address for your business, where all official documents from the Inland Revenue and legal authorities can be sent. Your registered office can be your trading or home address, but must be a geographical address and not a PO Box number.

If you don't have a suitable registered office, Duport can provide one for you - click here for more information.

step 2 - grabbing some extras

Once you've got a name and address, you can pick out the extra products and services that your company may need.

Some extras are legally required, such as having a statutory register book, and displaying your company name outside your registered office.

Other options include company seals - which are still considered vital by many advisors to give formal authority to company documents; and certificates of good standing - which provide proof that you have filed your annual return on time, and that you have accurate records with Companies House.

You may also want to consider reserving a domain name for your company so that no-one else on the internet can take it.

Once you've decided on all the extras your company will want and need, you can move on to the next step.

step 3 - last minute checks

Make sure you have everything prepared before forming your company. Here are some important things to consider.

  • do you have an accountant?
    Having an accountant can help you keep your finances in order and make sure that you are not paying too much Corporation Tax
  • if you are not in the UK, do you need a UK bank account?
  • if you are not in the UK, do you intend to register a branch of the company in your own country?

If you live overseas, you must decide whether your UK company will trade it its own right (and pay tax in the UK) or if you will trade through a branch of the company registered in your country of residence. In most cases, an overseas registration authority will require

Some authorities may also require a translation of the company's memorandum & articles, which Duport is able to supply for you in the major European languages.

Check the requirements with the authorities in the area where you live.

You are now ready to order.

Click here to choose and order your preferred company type.

Once you have formed your company you will be ready to move on to step four.

step 4 - when your company is formed

The first things you must do once you have formed your company are

  • record your director details in the statutory company register
  • complete your share certificates and keep them safe as part of your records
  • bring your accountant up-to-date and discuss your plans

It is best to keep copies of all the forms you send off in case you are asked to present them to banks or legal authorities.

Once all your records are accurate and up-to-date, you can focus on running your business.

You may also now be ready to order your company stationery (It is always sensible to wait until your company name has been officially registered and confirmed before ordering business cards and letterheads)

step 5 - the first 12 months

Now your company is up and running, you'll need to make sure that all your financial records are in order and that your statutory company register and other records are all up-to-date so that making your first annual return will be as smooth and stress-free as possible.

The Inland Revenue will send you a form in your first year of business to confirm your company details. You must complete and return it (or ask your accountant to do so).

Keep your statutory company register and other records up-to-date and make sure you record all invoices and other financial transactions. Good preparation will make the year-end tasks easier.

at the end of your first year

At the end of your first year you must complete an annual return. You will be required to submit one each year. You can file this online through the Companies House website. There is a filing fee of £15 to complete this which you will pay online. Alternatively you can request a paper form from Companies House but the filing fee is £30.

Have your accountant make up your annual accounts for HMRC and file a copy at Companies House.

The deadline for filing accounts is normally 9 months after the anniversary of your company's incorporation date and annually thereafter. There are penalties for filing this after the deadline.

Congratulations! You have come to the end of your first year of business!

We wish you well with your new company!

need more help?

If you find you are unable to answer all of your questions in this section, we are always delighted to hear from you.

Call us on 0117 950 2667 with any enquiries

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