what is a certificate of incorporation

What is a Certificate of Incorporation?

When a company, partnership or limited liability partnership is registered at Companies House it will be issued with a certificate of incorporation. In some countries this may be referred to as a licence, but in the UK it is simply confirmation that a legal structure has been formed.

It is a formal certificate confirming the entity has been registered at Companies House. They are normally printed on cream or white coloured card but most certificates are now issued digitally as a PDF document.

In years gone by, a business used to display their certificate often framing them and mounting them on the wall. This is less common now as most registrations can be easily checked online.

Company Formation

  • Full company documents

What information is on the certificate?

The content of the certificate will vary slightly depending on what type of business you are registering. All certificates include-

  • Government coat of arms
  • The words ‘Certificate of Incorporation’
  • Legal structure
    • Private Limited Company
    • Public Limited Company
    • Limited Liability Partnership
    • Limited Partnership
  • Registration number
  • Date of incorporation
  • Country of registration
    • England and Wales
    • Scotland
    • Northern Ireland
  • The legislation under which the entity has been formed
    • Companies Act 2006
    • Limited Liability Partnership Act 2006
    • 1907 Limited Partnerships Act
  • Companies House Logo
  • An image that is a representation of the official seal (no certificates are physically sealed these days)

Prefix on Registration Numbers

The certificate of incorporation includes the registered number. The numbers vary depending on the legal structure and the location of the business.

Limited Companies – LTD

Limited companies registered in England and Wales have no prefix
NI – Limited Companies registered in Northern Ireland
SC – Limited Companies registered in Scotland

Limited Liability Partnership

OC – LLP registered in England or Wales
NC – LLP registered in Northern Ireland
SO – LLP registered in Scotland

Limited Partnership

LP – Limited partnership registered in England or Wales
NL – Limited partnership registered in Northern Ireland
SL – Limited partnership registered in Scotland

Certificate of incorporation

Why is there no zero at the start of my company number on my certificate of incorporation?

Older companies with 7 digits in the company number will find some records at Companies House have an additional zero. In some electronic references to your company and on letters from Companies House there may be a zero prefix on the company number (e.g. 09563214).

Companies House introduced the additional zero in preparation for when the total amount of formed companies reached 10,000,000. However, the zero prefix is unnecessary on your certificate of incorporation.

The certificate of incorporation and company documentation are correct without showing the extra zero. You do not need to add the extra zero to your stationery or website.

Replacement Certificate of Incorporation?

If you registered your company using our website www.simpleformations.com you can access copies of your certificate online. Simply login to and download the electronic version.We can assist other customers that need a certified copy of the certificate of incorporation from Companies House. A small fee applies for this service, please contact us for further information.