What is a Certificate of Incorporation?

Once you have successfully formed a new limited company in the UK, Companies House will issue a certificate of incorporation. What does the certificate contain, and what happens if you require a certified copy?

What is a Certificate of Incorporation?

This document shows that the company has been registered at Companies House under the terms of the Companies Act 2006.

It contains:

  • Your company name
  • Your company’s registered number.
  • The date on which the company was formed.
  • Where the company is located (England & Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland).
  • The Registrar of Companies’ official seal.

How to get a Certificate of Incorporation

If you use the Companies House incorporation service or a third-party formation agent – such as Clever Formations – you will automatically receive a PDF certificate via email.

You should expect to wait between 3-6 hours from submitting your application before you receive your paperwork.

If you use the Companies House postal (paper) service, you should receive a paper copy within 8-10 working days, although post-COVID delays have been reported.

When would you need to show your Certificate?

  • If you want to open a new business bank account, you may be required to submit a copy.
  • If you apply for a business loan or other type of credit arrangement for your company.
  • If you are seeking any other type of funding, such as a grant.
  • If you are seeking new investors to take out shares in your company.
  • If, at some stage, you plan to sell your company.

These days, company information tends to be validated online, so you may not be asked to produce a paper copy of the Certificate. However, you may find a certified copy useful.

Get a copy of your company’s certificate of incorporation

You can simply visit the Companies House search page, search for your company, and click on ‘filing history’. Scroll through to the historical documents, download the pdf of the incorporation document, and print out the certificate.

How do I get a certified copy?

In some cases, you may be asked to provide a certified copy, to a lender perhaps, or if you’re doing business overseas.

Read this useful Companies House blog to find out how to order a certified copy.

You can also request for additional information to be added to a certificate, including the registered address, and details of the company’s officers.

You will have to set up a service account and pay a £15 fee. The certified copy should be delivered to the address you specify within a few working days.

What if I want to change my company’s name?

If for whatever reason you decide to change your company’s name in the future, you will need to repeat the same naming process you went through when forming the company.

Ensure that the desired name is available and that it doesn’t contravene the Company’s House naming rules.

The change either has to be agreed upon by the board of directors – via a special resolution or if permission is provided by the terms of the company’s Articles of Association.

You can use the Companies House Online Service if a special resolution has been made (this costs £8 or £30 for a same-day turnaround).

Alternatively, you can submit a paper copy of form NM01, plus a copy of the specialist resolution. This costs £10.

If you’re changing your company name via permission contained in the terms of your Articles, you will need to use form NM04. This also costs £10.