How to incorporate an e-commerce company in the UK

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The first hurdle any business founder will likely face is incorporating their business into a UK company so that the business can operate as a separate and legal entity.

A person might want to incorporate their e-commerce business at Companies House in order to act as a business under the Companies Act 2006. When incorporating as a new company, the e-commerce company undertakes certain obligations of notification and filing.

Company formation can be overwhelming for business owners looking to incorporate their services into a business. Company law is complex and the legal requirements required for company registration can be overwhelming. This guide outlines the things you will need to take into account and the processes you are required to complete when you decide to incorporate a company in the United Kingdom so that your e-commerce company can operate. 

Company Type

Work out what type of company you are going to incorporate your e-commerce company as. In the UK, private companies limited by shares are the most popular so you might want to start by thinking whether this company type suits your business.  

Choose a Company Name 

One of the first things you will likely do when deciding whether to start your e-commerce company is to brainstorm names for your business. You need to ensure that your company name is unique and does not contain sensitive words. 

Read more about the requirements for choosing a name for your e-commerce company. 

Choose your company’s registered offices 

You will also need to choose an official address for your company- it's ‘registered office’- so that departments like HMRC can deliver important information like legal notices, reminders and statutory updates. The address must be located in the same country that you are incorporating your e-commerce company but it does not have to be where your company carries out its business activity. For example, if you incorporate your e-commerce company in England, your office address must be in England but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the location in which you actually work for your clients. You will also want to select a service address so that you can receive communication from other parties. This address will be made visible to the public on the public registrar. 

Learn more about how to choose your company office

Members and Persons with Significant Control 

If you incorporate a private company for your e-commerce company, you will be required to appoint at least one director. You will also need to provide the director’s addresses as part of your application. You also need to identify all persons that will be Persons with Significant Control (PSC) of your e-commerce company and disclose these as part of your application.   

Memorandum and Articles of Association 

When you incorporate your e-commerce company, you will need to make your intention to set up a company clear via a Memorandum. You will also need to create a rulebook for your company that determines how decisions are made. This rule book is called the Articles of Association. There are Model Articles of Association that you can adopt in their entirety. 

Learn more about articles of association.

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Share Structures 

If ownership of your e-commerce company involves share capital, you need to determine the number of shares you will issue and ascribe them a nominal value. You will need to produce a statement of capital and initial shareholders. 

SIC Code 

When you make an application, you will need to provide Companies house with a standard industrial classification (SIC) code. This outlines the intended business activities of your company. 

Learn about what SIC codes you might consider picking for your e-commerce company.

Submit your application 

After you have decided on the above information you will need to complete a form IN01 that outlines the information related to your e-commerce company. You can submit an application by paper, using a web services or electronic filing software. 

Learn more about how to submit your application

Onboard staff and clients 

Once you have finalised the incorporation process, you will need to generate legal contracts to structure your business activities. Creating lawyer-approved agreements can be costly and it can be tempting to download free templates online such as for your assured shorthold tenancy agreements . However, this process is risky and unnecessary thanks to contract management platforms like Legislate. Legislate allows users to tailor the essential agreements and provides a full suite of contracts you will need for your e-commerce company including tenancy agreements, letters and notices. 

To create a lawyer-approved contract for only £9.95, sign up to Legislate today!

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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