You will get a certificate of incorporation when your company is successfully incorporated at Companies House. It will verify the existence of your company and certify that it has been legally registered at Companies House under the Companies Act 2006.
Your certificate of incorporation will be delivered to you in digital and/or paper format, depending on the way in which you choose to set up your limited company.
Digital or paper certificate of incorporation?
If you use the services of an online company formation agent, you will receive a digital PDF copy of your certificate of incorporation via email. Your agent will send this to you as soon as Companies House approves your application, which usually takes just 3-6 working hours. You may also receive a hard copy by post if your formation package includes this.
If you incorporate directly through Companies House, the registrar will send you a digital certificate by email (if you register online) or a paper certificate by post (if you register using a paper application). Digital certificates are received shortly after incorporation, which is usually within 24-48 hours. Postal applications take at least 8-10 days to process, so you will receive a hard copy of your certificate at your registered office address a few working days after incorporation, but it may take longer.
Have you lost your original certificate of incorporation?
If you lose your certificate of incorporation, there are a number of ways to obtain another copy.
1. Online via Companies House Service
Companies House Service provides free online access to company details and filings. Simply enter your company name in the search box, select your company, go to ‘Filing History’, open the filing that says ‘Incorporation’, click ‘View PDF’ and you will be able to view and download the scanned copy of your original certificate of incorporation.
2. Via your company formation agent
If you used a company formation agent to form your company, you will almost certainly be able to obtain a replacement digital or paper copy of your certificate.
At 1st Formations, customers can access their company details and filings on our free Online Company Manager. This facility will allow you to:
- download a digital copy of your certificate of incorporation free of charge. On the ‘Company Dashboard’ page, select ‘My Companies’, then click ‘View’ beside the relevant company, then select on ‘Documents’ to download the certificate.
- purchase a paper copy of the certificate at a cost of £10.00 from our online ‘Shop’ area
3. Physical replacement from Companies House
You can order a replacement paper certificate of incorporation directly from Companies House by calling their contact centre on 0303 1234 500 or visiting one of their information centres. The cost is £15.00 for the standard service, or £50.00 for the same-day service. Digital copies via email are also available.
Where to keep your certificate of incorporation
Your certificate of incorporation is an incredibly important document. You should keep it safe with your company registers and records at your registered office or SAIL address. It may be required if your company’s statutory registers are ever inspected.
It is also a good idea to keep digital copies as a backup and for emailing to banks, lenders, investors, clients, suppliers, and any other business associates who may require viewing your company’s certificate of incorporation.
When will I need to use my certificate of incorporation?
Your certificate contains many useful details about your company, including your company registration number (CRN) and date of incorporation, so you may need to refer to it on a number of occasions. You will also need to provide your certificate of incorporation in the following circumstances:
- opening a business bank account
- applying for a business loan
- buying or leasing property in your company name
- applying for business grants, licences, and permits
- opening accounts with suppliers and service providers
- seeking investment from third parties, e.g. bringing in new shareholders
- restructuring of selling your company
Certificate of incorporation and business bank accounts
You will need to provide a copy of your company’s certificate of incorporation when you apply to open a business bank account. Banks are required to adhere to very stringent rules and regulations, so you will need to prove that your company exists. Your certificate, therefore, assures the bank that your business meets the following requirements:
- legally registered at Companies House in accordance with the Companies Act 2006
- exists as a separate legal entity with the right to a bank account in its own name
- listed on the public register of UK companies
- the proposed business bank account name matches the registered company name
Due to the fact most UK companies are now set up online, as are many bank accounts, your bank may be happy to accept a digital copy of your certificate. However, if you are setting up a bank account in person at your local branch, it is advisable to take a printed copy of your certificate.
In addition to copies of your other incorporation documents, such as the memorandum of association, articles of association, and share certificates, your bank will ask you to provide personal ID and proof of address.