Registering a business in the UK costs between £12 and £100 depending on what method you choose. The cheapest and simplest way to register is online, but you can register by posting a form for a higher price.
Online and postal services are the primary means of applying for registration for UK limited companies. If you’re looking to register as an overseas company, you need to send a completed OS IN01 form and a cheque for £20 to Companies House within a month of setting up in the UK.
If you don’t want to go through the process of registering a limited company, you might be better off registering as a sole trader. You can find more information on how to do so in our article on the topic.
Registering your business online
Companies House and HMRC are constantly moving more of their services online, reducing paperwork and increasing efficiency. Compared to standard postal registration, incorporating your business online can be up to 10x quicker and just a fraction of the price.
There is a flat fee of £12 for registering through the Companies House website which can be paid by PayPal or by debit/credit card. Registering online is simple, secure and fast, with the vast majority of requests being processed within 24 hours.
Registering online does require that your company is limited by shares (i.e. that it’s a private limited company) and that you use standard articles of association. For more information on how to register a limited company, have a read of our comprehensive guide.
Options for registering your business by post
Registering a limited company by post is still an option if you prefer to keep the process offline. Because of the extra work involved, the cost of registration and the length of time it takes to complete are both higher than registering online.
The standard postal service costs £40 and takes 8-10 days. You’ll need to send a completed IN01 form, along with a cheque made payable to ‘Companies House’.
To speed up the process, you can pay £100 to have your registration application processed on the day it arrives. In addition to paying the extra money, you’ll need to write ‘same day service’ in the top-left corner of the envelope. Your application must also arrive before 3pm for it to be processed that day.
Are there any further costs?
If your registration is processed successfully, you will be able to start trading as a private limited company. There will be no further administrative costs beyond this point.
Remember, you’ll need to register for corporation tax at some point in your first three months of trading. This application won’t cost you anything more and is fairly easy to carry out online. Our company registration guide is the place to go to find out more about this process.
Business registered address
It’s worth noting that you will need a business address when you register your company.
While you can, technically, use your home address, security and privacy suggest you don’t – far better to use a registered office address which you can buy for a small monthly cost and which gives you access to a prestigious city centre address that you can use when registering instead. Alternatively, you can also choose to buy a mail forwarding address, which gives you the same benefits but to which you can also have your mail sent.