Forming a limited company: The required documents

Online or paper forms? Companies House or a Formation Agent?

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Great. You’ve decided that a private company limited by shares is the right structure for you and your business, now what? Well you have a couple of choices. But before we get onto that, let’s very quickly talk about Companies House.

Companies House is the UK’s ‘registrar of companies’. A UK company can’t be formed without their say-so, therefore all company formation requests need to go through Companies House one way or another.

Okay, now that’s out the way, the first question you need to answer is…

Do you want to form online or via paper forms?

If you have access to a computer this really is a no-brainer. Companies can be formed online in a matter of hours for under £15. Prices vary depending on who you form with (more on this in a bit) but Companies House charge £12. Regardless of who you use, the formation process should be relatively simple with an online wizard guiding you through a version of the IN01 incorporation document (although you may not see any mention of this name), halting progression if any information is missing.

Forming with the actual IN01 form via the paper method costs £40 for the normal 5-10 day (!) service or £100 for the same-day service. Of course, being paper forms, errors are more likely.

In terms of the information that you need to provide, the same is required for the online and paper method:

  • Proposed company name
  • Registered office address
  • Company director details
  • Shareholder details
  • The share capital information and the prescribed peculiars relating to each class of shares
  • People with significant control details

As well as the above information you will also need to provide the following two documents to successfully form a limited company:

Articles of association – Outlines the rules for the running of the company, including internal management affairs and legal responsibility.

Memorandum of association – Contains the names of the subscribers (initial shareholders) who are forming the company.

If you’re forming online these documents will automatically be drawn up for you (you will have the option to create your own ‘Articles of association’ if you wish). If forming via paper forms, you will still have the opportunity to use prepared ‘Articles of association’ but you will need to include your own ‘Memorandum of association’ when posting your completed IN01.

You will find a template for the ‘Memorandum of association’ here and, just incase you would like to draw up your own, a template for the ‘Articles of association’ here.


To form with Companies House or a Formation Agent?

If all company formation requests need to go through Companies House why not go directly with them? Good question.

Company formations direct with Companies House are very much ‘no-frills’ affairs. You get the company formed and that’s it.

On the other hand, company formation agents – who may charge slightly more than Companies House – are able to offer everything that Companies House offer, plus extra associated services.

For example, a company formation agent may be able to provide ‘address protection’ by letting you use their address as your company’s registered office and director’s service address; two addresses that are on the public register. They also may be able to assist with the opening of a business bank account or even provide some accounting advice. On top of this, further down the line they can assist with filing obligations such as the confirmation statement and annual accounts.

At a glance information:


Bryn Glover has been Editor of since 2017. Running the site's content strategy, Bryn spends a lot of time speaking to entrepreneurs and preparing for Startups' annual editorial campaigns.

Having worked in journalism for just under a decade, Bryn wrote for sites like The Times, Reader's Digest, Independent and Times Higher Education before moving into the small business world.

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