Starting a private limited company with a bank account in the UK
June 21, 2011 5:41 AM   Subscribe

How do I start a new private limited company in the UK and then start a new business banking account for it?

I find myself needing to start a new private limited company in the UK and then setting up a new business banking account for it. I've attempted to read around the subject and get a feel for every single obligation that a private limited company has once it's incorporated but I finding it very difficult to determine this.

For example, I'm basically happy that there are companies such as Jordans which will file a lot of the required paperwork for you and then you'll "magically" have a new company. This doesn't put me at ease, because I still have no idea what the monthly, quarterly, and annual obligations of being part of a private limited company are, let alone how to start a bank account for it.

I am not looking for single-link answers which point me at Companies House; of course I've looked at Companies House, and it is not that useful. Far more useful for me has been, but the total set of obligations owed by a private limited company seem to be dispersed all over the website and I can't form a cohesive picture in my head of what is needed.

Help! Put yourself in my shoes. Ideally I'd like a bullet-point list, or a way of building up a bullet-point list, of every single phone call and form I need to fill out for the next 12 months that will result in me having a legal and legitimate private limited company. Thanks.
posted by asymptotic to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is why you hire an accountant :)

Is this any help?

Alternatively The Life of a Company at Companies House seems like the right kind of thing to be reading.
posted by pharm at 6:03 AM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: You have to file accounts annually with the Inland Revenue. Your accountant can sort this out for you.

You have to file an annual return with Companies House.

You have to file some version of your accounts with Companies House. Your accountant will also do this for you. This is not the same as filing them with the Revenue.

You must keep hold of all the paperwork for your accounts (including receipts and invoices) for six years from the end of the accounting period.

If you pay anyone you probably need to do it through PAYE (yet again, accountant).

If you turn over more than the annual limit for VAT (currently 73k) you will have to register for VAT. If you are not registered but are likely to hit the limit at some point, this means you have to keep an eye on your turnover every month.

You have to put your company address and registered number on your letterhead and email signature.

You have to display your company name outside your registered office.

To open a bank account your bank will want (at least) your certificate of incorporation and ID and signature for all directors (even ones not signatory to the bank account). In my experience it varies by bank, but the bank staff won't be able to tell you exactly what's required until you give them what they said they wanted and they have sat on it for three weeks without calling you back. The Alliance and Leicester have particularly appalling business banking services.
posted by emilyw at 6:13 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

1) Hire a professional. An accountant is probably going to be needed at some point, but a solicitor is probably what you're looking for at this point. You've gathered that this is a complicated affair. That's why business owners don't do this themselves, they hire experts. There's a reason solicitors exist and makes lots of money. This is that reason.

2) Once you've got that, walk into a bank and say you want to open a commercial account. They'll be happy to help you.
posted by valkyryn at 6:16 AM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: One of the reasons you're finding stuff all over the place is that it comes from so many sources - there are director-specific obligations, company-specific obligations, rules that relate to finance and keeping your accounts in order, filing obligations with Company's House and Revenue, Health and Safety obligations and a whole lot more.

I don't know if there is a list of every single obligation or, frankly, if that will be all that helpful in the end.

I would highly recommend joining the Institute of Directors. They are mostly focused on SME's like I imagine yours will be and have a ton of resources. Other than that, getting an experienced Company Secretary would relieve you of a lot of the burden relating to required procedures for filing returns and so on.

Good luck, feel free to mail me if you have more questions or any specific requests.

ps. I had a great experience opening an account with HSBC last week. And a terrible experience with Barclays the 3 weeks preceding that.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 6:19 AM on June 21, 2011

Best answer: Pick up the yellow pages and look for accountants. Find some small to medium sized local ones in your area and call them and get them to talk you through the process and through what they can do to help.

You should be able to get a high level overview for free. You may also get pointed to resources. But without knowing what kind of business this company will be conducting it is very difficult to be more helpful.

You say you didn't find Companies House helpful but their guides would still be the best starting point regarding formal requirements.

And yes, the easiest way to make sure your company complies with Companies House and HMRC requirements is an accountant. Unless you have a reasonable grasp of bookeeping, UK GAAP requirements and basic tax knowledge you'll need to engage one anyway.

Somebody recommended a company secretarial services and personally, I would stay clear. I have only ever seen them used by very few clients. Admittedly clueless clients who needed a lot of hand holding but they were paying hundreds of pounds for somebody to be their registered office and to file 1-2 forms per annum with Companies House.

As for opening the bank account - call a bunch of banks and get them to send you their business banking introductory information. Bank charges vary hugely so get a few information packs before you open the account.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

There are a few self-help style books that outline the responsibilities of being the director or company secretary of a limited company. I can't name any offhand but if you spend a while leafing through the Business section of a reasonably sized bookshop, you should find what you need. Mostly they're padding (long sections reproducing blank forms) because the actual information is pretty simple.

Getting a limited company incorporated: don't go through Companies House. I've used a few of the quick-incorporation ones and is the best I've seen.

Business bank accounts: the paperwork is not hugely sophisticated. Santander and Barclays seem to be at the top of the ratings charts right now. Time to open an account can vary widely: last summer the Co-operative Bank messed me around for six weeks and then said it had lost the application paperwork. I went elsewhere.

Best of luck.
posted by Hogshead at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers! Quite the road ahead for me.
posted by asymptotic at 12:35 AM on June 22, 2011

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