An important factor to starting a business is registering the company name. It’s not compulsory to register a company name if the business operates under the sole trader structure, but for any other business model, it’s something that can’t be avoided. Company registration is carried out by Companies House via the official UK government website (gov.uk). You can use the company name availability checker on the site to find out whether the name you want has already been taken. 

Deciding on the perfect name for a business and registering it early in the conception of the business can be worthwhile for limited companies and partnerships, even if it’s only done to secure that name before someone else attempts to use it. A lot of planning can go into choosing this official title, and it’s possible to overthink it due to the importance of picking something memorable and unique. If the end product can’t be easily confused with a similar company, reflects the relevant service, and holds longevity for future use, it’s likely to be a good name for your company.

When choosing a suitable company name, it’s advisable to pick one that:

  • Doesn’t use the same or a similar name to a company that’s already registered.
  • Doesn’t include any sensitive or offensive words.
  • Doesn’t include ‘ltd’, ‘limited’, ‘LLP’, limited liability partnership’ or ‘plc’.
  • Doesn’t differentiate from a similar company name merely by altered punctuation.
  • Doesn’t wrongly claim to be connected to the government or local authorities. 

During the application stage, every detail should be accurate and provided with complete transparency, and the chosen company name should be consistent throughout the process.

How to register a limited company

For registering a limited company, the company name must be chosen and registered before the business can start trading. This differs massively to working as a sole trader, where it’s only mandatory if you’ve earned more than £1,000 between 6th April 2018 and 5th April 2019, and if you require proof of self-employment. Proving self-employment is applicable for claiming tax-free childcare, where you’d need to pay voluntary Class 2 National Insurance to qualify for the necessary benefits.

Limited company registration enhances the credibility and accountability of the business, leading to the ability to make or lose money, acquire debt and pay taxes, all as a separate entity from anyone within the company. The process of registering your company is based on the completion of a few forms, which can be accessed online. All of the required details need to be filled in using forms provided on the HMRC website, including: Form 10, Form 12, the Article of Association and the Memorandum.

Providing there are no problems with your application, acceptance can take as little as 24 hours. An accepted registration will be confirmed when you receive the Certificate of Incorporation, which includes all of your company’s details including the date of registration and the official company registration number (CRN).

How to register an umbrella company

Many freelancers and contractors benefit from working through an umbrella company. One of the main bonuses of working within this structure is that the umbrella company will facilitate all payments and account for any applicable deductions when it comes to dealing with HMRC implications involving salary, contributions to National Insurance and tax via Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

To start working through an umbrella company, you first need to pick an umbrella scheme provider, which you can then register with online or via phone. It’s a good idea to look for one that is HMRC compliant to avoid any issues in the future relating to your employment or pay.

It can only take 24 hours for a freelancer account to be created. In many cases, you’ll be given information in regards to an online portal for communicating with the umbrella company. If a portal is provided, this would be the place for accessing details on the work being contracted and further information regarding parameters over completing the work such as a deadline.

You should then be ready to start working as a contractor for the chosen umbrella company. The work itself often comes directly from recruitment agencies on behalf of companies that need work doing on a temporary contract. Payments will then usually be made through the client, recruitment agency and umbrella company before reaching you.