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How to set up a company in the UK?

There are essentially 3 legal structures for starting a business in the UK:
1/Work alone and be a sole trader.
2/Team up to form a partnership.
3/Operate a limited company.

A sole trader or partner can be held personally liable for your business and outstanding debts can be met from your personal assets. As a company, you can be a PLC (Public Limited Company, publicly traded) or a LTD (LimiTeD, privately owned), with limited liability and a separate legal entity.

The aim of this article is to explain the last term, or how to set up a limited company. You need:
a) forms completed and payment to the Companies House;
b) a company name, director and secretary;
c) a UK address.

By dealing directly with the registration body the Companies House you can pay a peppercorn amount (£20-£80).

However, registration can be time-consuming, and Companies House will not advise you about specific matters such as the content of the memorandum, type of shares or specific articles to include. Therefore you can get some help by using a Company formation service, with different prices depending on the level of service:
- For £80-£100 you can seek assistance from an online registration company
- A full service from a company formations service, solicitor or accountant can help you form a new company for a fee £1000-£1500. They can deal with all the issues, acting as the secretary of the Association.
- Finally, you can buy an ‘off the shelf’ or readymade company. You simply transfer your name to an available one. You can have your company set up nearly immediatly but the choice of names are limited.

If you want to deal yourself with the Companies house, you will have to fill the Memorandum of Association, especially:
- Company name
- Location of the registered office (UK address)
- Objects of the company
- Limiting the liability of the members (no more than the value of their shares)
- Share capital (you may want to create ordinary shares with no vote rights)
It can be purchased from a law / legal stationers or formation agent for £20-£30 or templates may be found on the Internet.

You will also need to submit:
- Form 10 (first directors and secretary and intended situation of registered office)
- Form 12 (declaration on application for registration)

 [07-10-2005]
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