A company registration number (CRN or simply 'company number') is assigned to a company during the company formation and registration process. It is unique code of eight characters, made up of either figures or a combination of figures and letters depending on the company structure and where the company has been incorporated. A company number is provided automatically and at random so that the company details can be easily identified and to verify its incorporation with Companies House. A company number cannot be changed or edited.
Where to find your Company Number
Your company number will be stated on your certificate of incorporation and on all documentation you have received from Companies House. You can also find a company number online by making use of the Company Search functionality on the Companies House public register on gov.uk. You can also find out a companies registered office address, details of a company director and other company officers and other company information, such as statements of share capital and confirmation statements.
Interpreting Company Numbers
Whilst your company number will be completely personal to your company there are a series of rules relating to the format of your company formation number. company numbers will be formatted in certain ways depending on the location of registration and the type of company being incorporated.
For example, limited liability companies incorporated in England and Wales will always be assigned an 8 figure company number, such as 12345678. In Scotland, company number will always start with ‘SC’ and be followed by 6 figures (e.g. SC123456) whilst in Northern Ireland all companies formed post-partition will have a company number that starts with NI and followed by six digits (e.g. NI123456).
In contrast, different rules apply to the company numbers of limited liability partnership (llps). In England and Wales, LLPs will be pre-fixed by ‘OC’ and then followed by 6 digits (e.g. OC123456) . In Scotland, the same format applies but ‘SO’ replaces OC (e.g. SO123456) and in Northern Ireland ‘NL’ replaces OC (e.g. NL123456).
For limited partnerships in England and Wales, ‘LP’ pre-fixes a 6 digit number (e.g. LP123456) and in Scottish cases ‘SL’ replaces the LP (e.g. SL123456). In Northern Ireland the same code format is used for limited partnerships as LLPs.
There are some exceptions to these general principles, for examples in the case of investment companies and foreign companies, but these rules will help you to quickly identify information about most other companies.
Sole traders do not typically have a company number as they are not required to register at Companies House and their details are not contained on the registrar of companies as they only register with HMRC.
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When and where to use your Company Number
You will need your company number when you: file or update a confirmation statement (annual return) to Companies House; update your company information, for example altering your articles of association; make changes to your share structure; file copies of company resolution, and; to wind up your company. You will also need your company number when you deal with HMRC, for example to deal with business taxes and complete Company Tax Returns. Your company number will also be needed for broader administration, such as setting up a business bank account or creating share certificates.
Your company number is not the same as your unique taxpayer reference number (UTR) which is assigned to your company by HMRC to track your tax records. Similarly, your company number is not the same as your company VAT number or PAYE reference number.
You should also make sure that you display your company number on business letters, websites and order forms. Genuinely, it is a good rule of thumb to include your company number on all material you release, including emails, faxes and any material where an identifier would be useful.
Company Number vs Company Name
Your company number and company name are both ways that you might distinguish your company from others. However, whilst you can change your company name, your company number will remain the same for the lifespan of your company, regardless of any changes that occur.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.