The UK is a fantastic place to do business — which is why so many companies from across the globe choose to trade here. Likewise, there are also some amazing opportunities out there for UK limited companies keen on taking their own goods and services to new markets overseas. But to trade in other countries, a UK company will often need to provide a Certificate of Good Standing (COGS) to overseas regulators.
In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about the Certificate of Good Standing, including what it is, why you’d need one, and how you can request one..
What is a Certificate of Good Standing?
A Certificate of Good Standing is an official document issued by Companies House, the UK Government’s official registrar of companies.
It verifies your limited company is in ‘good standing’ with Companies House, which tells third parties your company has been in continuous, uninterrupted existence since incorporation and that no action is being taken to strike your company off the register.
Simply put, a Certificate of Good Standing is proof your company has met all its statutory filing requirements, paid all necessary fees and charges, and is adhering to all Companies House rules.
Why would you need one?
There are several key reasons a limited company would request a Certificate of Good Standing.
First and foremost, you’re generally expected to provide a COGS if you want to trade overseas or set up an overseas branch or office.
Your certificate would then likely need to be provided to the registrar equivalent of Companies House in the country you’d like to trade in. You’d also normally be expected to prove your company’s good standing with a COGS if you wanted to open an overseas bank account for your UK company.
But a Certificate of Good Standing isn’t only for trading overseas.
Another reason you may request a COGS is if you want to open a business bank account here in the UK for a company with only overseas directors.
You can also ask for a certificate to satisfy potential lenders, clients, suppliers, or investors. By providing a Certificate of Good Standing, you’re able to show them your company is credible and organised.
What information is provided on a Certificate of Good Standing?
Before asking for a Certificate of Good Standing, it’s important you understand the information included in each certificate.
A COGS contains the following information:
- The names of your director(s)
- The names of your secretaries (if applicable)
- Your company’s registered office address
- The date your company was incorporated
- Verification your company is up-to-date with statutory filing requirements
- Your company’s objects (if applicable)
It’s important to note you can’t request a COGS that includes shareholder details.
If you need information about your shareholders or statement of capital, you’ll need to file an up-to-date confirmation statement and then request Companies House to certify it.
How do you get a Certificate of Good Standing?
You can request a Certificate of Good Standing from Companies House online. For further information call 0303 1234 500, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if you want to remove the hassle of requesting one yourself, you should consider using the 1st Formations Certificate of Good Standing Service, at a cost of £89.99 plus VAT. If you are in a hurry, you can use our Express Service to get your certificate issued in as little as 24 hours and sent to you by Royal Mail Special Delivery or International Tracked and Signed mail.
Before making a COGS request, there are a few eligibility requirements you must fulfil.
First, your company must have at least one director who’s a natural person. That means one of your directors needs to be a human rather than another company.
Your company also needs to be up-to-date on all its annual accounts and confirmation statement filings. Also, there can’t be any actions currently getting taken against your company. Likewise, your company must have been in continuous and uninterrupted existence since it was formed.
When you request a COGS, it gets sent to your registered office address. You can also request a digital copy, although this won’t normally include a signature of a Companies House official.
Certificates are valid for three months from the date of issue. If you need to use a COGS beyond the three-month mark, you’ll have to request a new one.
Can I use it overseas?
One of the primary uses of a COGS is to demonstrate to foreign regulators that your UK limited company is in good standing. That being said, foreign registrars will also likely request your certificate is legalised for use in their respective jurisdictions using an apostile.
An apostille is an officially stamped certificate issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office — which makes it legally valid in 124 different countries.
If you want to learn more about apostilled documents, check out our blog: Everything you need to know about apostilled documents. We also provide an Apostilled Documents Service at a cost of £99.99 per document.
So there you have it…
We have covered everything you need to know about the Certificate of Good Standing and also touched on apostilled documents. We hope you have found this blog of interest. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.