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Do I Need to Register My Business?

Take the jump into contracting and go limited. Here’s our guide to registering your company legally.

Depending on how you choose to structure your company, you might have to register your business. For sole traders, this isn’t a problem, but if you are thinking about setting up your own limited company, then there will be a small amount of paperwork that needs to be done to inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of your new trading status.

The usual questions that we are asked here at Nixon Williams are:

  • What business structure is best for me? Sole Trader, Limited, etc
  • How do I register as limited?
  • How long do you have to do this?
  • Can I begin trading before I set up a limited company?
  • What are the rules and regulations about trading (i.e before I have either formed a limited company or registered as a sole trader)
  • What information do you need to set up a limited company?
  • Who can help me with this process?

This article will help dispel the myths and help you understand what is expected of you and most importantly when by, the last thing you want to be doing is facing a pesky fine, just as you start.

The facts

The first thing to do is probably to speak to an accountant and make sure that working through a limited company is the best way of operating for you. Our limited versus umbrella guide might be worth a quick read. Or it might be worth taking a look at sole trader options, it’s entirely dependent on your own personal circumstances.

Ideally, you should have your company bank account set up as quickly as possible in order to avoid using your personal bank account for business purchases. Although these expenses can be claimed back it makes it a little easier to purchase business goods through your business bank account.

If you decide to operate as a limited company, please read on…

How much time do I have to set up my limited company?

Whilst there are no real legalities as to how much time you have to set up your limited company after you have begun trading, it is recommended that you should have registered at least six months before the new tax year (April). A company is considered active when it is carrying out the following:

  • Any trading or professional business activity
  • Goods or services are bought or sold
  • Any income is received
  • Any items are bought
  • Interest is earned

However, if you register your new company and decide you do not wish to trade until a later date, you must inform HMRC within 3 months of any business activity.

When can I begin trading?

Once you have formally set up your limited company with Companies House you can commence trading. Companies House will then inform HMRC and you can expect to receive documentation to your registered office address informing you of the next steps.

Sole trader? Take a look at our guide to setting up as a sole trader for more information.

What are the rules and regulations about trading before I’ve registered my company?

If you have started a business without registering and setting up a limited company, then you are effectively a sole trader whether you intended to be or not. You are then legally required to inform HMRC when you started the business and could face fines for failing to do so earlier.

Though not forming a limited company you are personally liable for any business debts, meaning that if you were to form a limited company, for example, any business debts would be attached to the limited company and not yourself.

What information do you need to set up a limited company?

Firstly, the most important thing to do is pick a company name. However, you do need to make sure it is available, you can do this through the Companies House name availability checker.

Your name can be anything, your street name or something to do with the industry you are in. Once you have your name, now onto the simple part. If you are thinking of becoming a client of Nixon Williams then the formation is free of charge, all you will need to do is fill out a few extra boxes on our limited company application form, these are:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation
  • Town of birth
  • Nationality
  • Share dividends
  • Company Name
  • Registered Office Address
  • Number of Directors
  • Shareholders
  • Contract Start Date
  • Preferred Business Bank Account
  • Appoint a Company Secretary

Having an accountant can be very beneficial, especially if you just want to get on with the work and delegate some of the admin to a third party. It can be a relief not having to worry about whether you’re paying the right amount of tax or getting the correct amount of dividends from your company’s profits. If you are unsure of what amount of dividends you can take, we would advise you speak to an accountant, who will be able to help you with this. This means that if you are married you might like your spouse to be a part of the company too with a share in retained profits.

How do I register?

The simplest way to register is to go to our limited company formation page. It usually takes 3-6 hours to register your company. If you choose to become a client of Nixon Williams, we will assist in registering your new limited company for PAYE, VAT, Corporation Tax and assist with opening a business bank account with Metro Bank.

In order to set up your new limited company, you will initially need, a company name, address, at least one company director and one shareholder.

How can Nixon Williams help?

Nixon Williams is a specialist accountant, we can help you set up a limited company quickly and compliantly. Worried some assignments might be deemed inside IR35 and some of them not? No bother, seamlessly switch between umbrella and your limited company with Nixon Williams. Or take a look at our sole trader packages to see if they’re right for you.

Appointing an accountant can save you some of the time and stress when starting up your own limited company. If you would like to speak to someone about any of the above information or any other queries you may have, please fill in your information below and a member of the best advice team will be in touch.

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