Starting a business as a sole trader means your business has a different formation process. You may be wondering if you need to go through the process of registering with Companies House.
It’s a common question, and in this blog post, we’ll explore whether or not registering with Companies House is necessary for sole traders.
Understanding Companies House
First things first, let’s break down who and what is Companies House. In the UK, Companies House is the official registrar of companies, and its primary purpose is to maintain and make available public information about registered companies and business entities. It’s the go-to place for keeping records of various business-related documents and details. But as a sole trader, your situation is a bit different.
Sole Trader Status
As a sole trader, you’re essentially running your business as an individual. You and your business are considered one and the same, which means that you don’t have to create a separate legal entity for your business, as limited companies or partnerships do. This is where the good news comes in – sole traders are not required to register with Companies House!
So, do you need to do anything at all when it comes to official registration? The short answer is yes.
Registering for Self-Assessment
While you may not need to register with Companies House, you still need to register your business’ existence with some governing bodies. You need to register for self-assessment with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This is where you’ll report your business income and expenses for tax purposes.
The self-assessment process is how the government keeps track of your earnings and ensures you’re paying the right amount of tax. You’ll need to register for self-assessment when you start your sole trader venture and then file an annual tax return. It’s a straightforward process, and you can do it online through the HMRC website.
While you’re not obligated to register with Companies House, there are other legal and administrative aspects you should be aware of as a sole trader:
- Business Name: If you’re using a business name that isn’t your own, you may need to register it as a “trading name” with HMRC. This ensures that your business is correctly identified for tax purposes.
- National Insurance: You’ll be responsible for paying Class 2 and Class 4 National Insurance contributions. Make sure to keep up with these payments to maintain your entitlement to benefits like the state pension.
- Records and Bookkeeping: Keep thorough records of your income and expenses, as you’ll need them for your tax return. Consider using accounting software or consulting with an accountant to ensure your finances are in order.
Limited Company vs Sole Trader
Finally, whilst being a sole trader is the simplest way to get your business up and running, a limited company can provide you with added security.
As a sole trader you are completely liable for your business, which means if the business has debt or bad credit, it will affect your personal finances and credit too. Whereas, a limited company is a separate legal entity. This means you won’t be personally liable. Secondly, as a LTD your company’s name is protected, you will benefit from having a scalable business model and your company will have the added advantage of being credible.
Setting up an LTD is a different process, but we’re here to help. Our start-up hub is full of information to get you started.
Of course, you can begin your business as a sole trader and make the move to incorporation once you find your feet.
In a nutshell, as a sole trader, you don’t need to register with Companies House, but you do have certain responsibilities, such as registering for self-assessment with HMRC and keeping your financial records in order. It’s all part of being a responsible and successful sole trader.
If you ever have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional, as they can provide valuable guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.
Remember, your venture as a sole trader can be an exciting and rewarding path, and with the right information and approach, you can navigate it smoothly and successfully.