The one aspect most likely to delay the start of business for a new company is not the actual incorporation but the printing of stationery, design of website and so on..
Letter headings and other stationery cannot be printed until after the company is incorporated. This is not just commercial prudence in case a name is turned down, but certain items such as the company number will not be known until the certificate of incorporation is received.
Once you have this you can go ahead and print any stationery you need, though if you are going to register for VAT it may be best to wait until you have your VAT number before printing invoices, though this can be typed on an invoice rather than printed.
There are some legal requirements that you ignore at your financial and criminal peril and these are set out below. Please note that as from 1st January 2007 certain information must be shown on company websites and email footers. Full details below:
Letterheads: Company letterheads must show:
- The name of the company. This must end in “Limited” or “Ltd” or their Welsh equivalents. If the name you trade under is different in any way from the name of your company as shown on your certificate of incorporation, then the full name, including “Limited” etc must be shown on the heading, usually at the foot.
- The registered office. It must be identified as the registered office. If there is only one address shown on the letterhead, the words “Registered Office” can appear in small type just above or below, or you can mention it at, say, the foot of the heading by saying “Registered at the above address”, or something similar. The important point is that your registered office must be clearly identified. If this were an address other than your trading address then it would be appropriate to print the address, clearly identified as such, in small type at the foot of the letterhead and the trading address elsewhere in larger type.
- The registered number.
- Whether registered in England (or ‘England & Wales’) or Scotland.
- A Welsh company which has chosen “Cynfngedig” instead of “Limited” as the last word of its name must also state (in English) that it is a limited company.
Letterheads: Information that is not legally required but which it may be advisable to include:
- The correspondence address, if other than the registered office.
- Telephone, Fax and Telex numbers.
- The general nature of the company’s business unless obvious from the name.
- The VAT number. Legally required on invoices but not letterheads. If you are going to type invoices on your letterheads it may be convenient to print it here.
- It is no longer necessary to print the names of directors on a letterhead, but if you print one you must print all. Also, you must indicate the nationality of directors who are not British.
If the company is registered for VAT its invoices must show:
- The company’s name.
- Its business address. (It is not necessary to show or indicate the registered office address on an invoice, though you may do so if you wish.)
- The VAT registration number.
- The serial number of the invoice – this must be sequential.
- Date of supply. (If a different date is also shown as the date the invoice is issued the date of supply must also be identified by the words “Tax Point”.)
- Type of supply: (sale, hire, loan, etc)
- Description of goods or service.
- Total payable excluding VAT.
- Rate of VAT.
- Amount of VAT.
- Rate of any cash discount offered.
- The customer’s name (and address if not a cash/counter sale)
Not all these details need to be printed: items 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 & 12 will obviously be typed in as required. Further details of VAT requirements can be found on the HM Customs & Excise website.
Where a company is not registered for VAT item 1 is the only legal requirement and items 1, 2, 5, 7, 8 and 12 will probably meet all commercial requirements.
If the business uses any of the special VAT schemes this has to be shown on the invoice. These schemes include the second hand and tour operators schemes.
If the business makes cross border or intra EC supplies this also must be stated on the invoice.
Previously there were no specific requirements under the Companies Act but it was generally considered prudent under contract law for a “printed purchase order” to show the same information as was legally required to be shown on a letter heading. Since 1st January 2007 it is now a legal requirement for all UK companies to list their company registration number, place of registration, and registered office address on order forms.
Websites & Email Messages
All UK companies are now required to list their company registration number, place of registration, and registered office address on their company website. This information should also appear in email footers.
Name of Company
In addition to business letters and invoices, the company’s name must appear:
- On its cheques (the bank will normally do this anyway but if you have a long company name this may cause a problem if they shorten it).
- On receipts, if issued.
- Outside “every office or place in which its business is carried on.” This wording is ambiguous. It can be read as “every office” or “every office … in which its business is carried on.” For example, if you use an accommodation address, or use your solicitor’s address as your registered office, does your name need to be shown outside? Prudence would say yes, but …. ? Whatever you decide, note that a Welsh company which uses a Welsh equivalent to “Limited” or “Ltd” has also to state that it is a limited company outside every …. etc.
Certificate of Incorporation
This should be “clearly displayed in ‘a public place’” at every company’s registered office.
If you don’t get these things right not only can you be fined you could find that any contract your company entered into will not be enforceable.
- Choosing the Structure for Your Business
- Starting in Business – Choosing the Structure
- Starting in Business – Taxation of Income
- Starting in Business – Don’t Overlook a Partnership
- Starting in Business – You Need a Business Plan
- What Use is a Business Plan?
- How To Succeed In Business
- Free Business Guides
Category: Starting a Business