Certificate of incorporation: what is it?

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Certificate of incorporation: what is it?

A certificate of incorporation is essentially your company’s birth certificate. It’s the piece of paper Companies House sends you once you’ve officially registered your company.

The certificate of incorporation proves that you exist as a business. It shows you’ve legally formed a company and that it’s registered with Companies House. You can frame it and hang it on the boardroom wall or stick it in a drawer – at least until you need to open a business bank account (more about that later).

It shows the name of your company, its registered number and the date it was incorporated. It also shows the type of company you’ve set up (ie limited, public, private, etc) and the country where it’s registered.

Why do I need a certificate of incorporation?

You’ll need it to open a business bank account. And you might need it again if you want to apply for a business loan, sell shares or even sell your company.

If you’re looking to do business abroad, you can get a slightly more detailed certificate of incorporation that can include the names, ages and nationalities of the directors. It’ll also show the company secretary’s name, the registered office address, and a ‘good standing statement’.

A good standing statement tells people that your company has been in business ever since it was incorporated and that no one is taking action to ‘strike it off’ the register. The authorities in other countries might ask for it to check your business is in good order.

What happens if I lose it?

Don’t worry – you can get a copy from Companies House. A new copy in seven days costs £50, but if you’re in less of a hurry you can have it in 28 days for £15.

In a nutshell

The certificate of incorporation proves your business is registered legally with Companies House. You’ll need it to open a business bank account.

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