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What are the registration requirements when starting a business?

If you form a private limited company or a limited liability partnership (LLP), the new business is registered at Companies House as part of the process. You will then need to keep up to date with various requirements, such as filing annual returns and letting Companies House know about any change of directors. There isn’t a similar registration process for sole traders and traditional business partnerships.

Whatever form your business takes, you will be responsible for ensuring that you are registered with HM Revenue & Customs, are keeping proper records, filing the required returns and paying taxes. You should take advice from your accountant on the requirements in terms of self-assessment or corporation tax, PAYE and VAT.

Depending on what your business does, there may also be additional registration requirements. For example:

  • Food businesses need to register with their local authority and businesses supplying alcohol need a licence.
  • Businesses that pose particular health and safety risks may need to register with their local authority or the Health & Safety Executive.
  • Businesses involved in potentially polluting activities may need a permit from the Environment Agency.

You can get guidance on registration requirements for your business from your trade association or legal adviser.

While it is not required, you may also want to consider how to protect any intellectual property. For example, registering a trade mark covering your business or brand name helps protect you against other businesses using the same or similar names for related products. Registering a design helps prevent competitors from selling products with the same look or appearance.

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