What is a ready made company or shelf company?
Put simply a shelf company is a limited company that we have pre-registered at Companies House. The company is sat ready waiting to be purchased and traded instantly. The companies are absolutely clean, with no trading history or adverse past. All of the companies are sat dormant waiting for the new owners to start trading with them.
Why are they called shelf companies?
The name ‘shelf company’ refers back to the days when the company documents would literally be on a shelf ready to be transferred to the new owner. However, the reality today is that all of the company documents are stored digitally.
The origins of ready made shelf companies stems back to the days when online company formations were not available. All companies were formed manually by post or in person at Companies House. Getting to Cardiff is not convenient for most people and postal applications took 5-10 working days. Therefore to reduce the time it took to get companies to clients, formation agents and accountants kept pre-registered companies on the shelf.
Do shelf companies come with a VAT number?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Some formation agents may try to mislead you that a shelf company has a VAT number. They may even tell you that they can fast track your VAT application. Some will even claim that you can use their ‘online VAT registration’ to speed the process up. This is not true.
To register for VAT a company has to have a bank account and prove that the company has traded. Shelf companies are clean, never traded dormant companies. They cannot have a bank account (see the question below). They have never traded.
You cannot make Customs and Excise go faster. No formation agent has a special arrangement with the government. There is no fast track.
Yes you can register online for VAT. Go to www.hmrc.gov.uk and register for VAT online yourself. It’s FREE so why pay a company simply to go through their software that fills in the same information and transfers it to HMRC?
Do not be conned that a dormant, clean company has a VAT number as you will probably just be provided with the application forms. If in doubt ask them to fax or email you a copy of the VAT number and ask how they got it if the company is clean with no trading history. Unfortunately there is no quick fix.
Do ready made companies come with a bank account?
Again the answer is no. To get a bank account open for a limited company all banks carry out reference checks on the officers of the company. Banks will not open accounts for companies that have no actual people as officers of the company. Therefore to get a bank account someone would have to apply to the bank proving who they are. Reference checks would be conducted on that person to check that they are genuine and that they have a suitable credit history. They would then have full access to the account. Do not be misled by agents that offer shelf companies with bank accounts. They may provide you with account opening forms, they may assist you with completing the forms, but it is very unlikely that the account is actually open. Even if an account were open for a company, you could not personally use the account until the bank conducts reference checks on you. If in any doubt why not ask for proof that the account is open, for example the opening statement for the account.
The reality is that an agent offering a ready made company with a bank account has probably agreed with their local bank to refer all clients directly to them. This simply reduces your choice in selecting a bank preferable to you and does not assist in improving the speed of the account opening itself.
Who are the current officers of the company?
The ready made shelf companies that we sell are dormant companies with clean histories. To keep them that way the officers that are appointed at the time of incorporation are also dormant companies. No real people are appointed as director or secretary of the company. That way our companies can never be affected by an individual’s acts or omission guaranteeing the company history is clean.
When you buy a shelf company from us the two existing officers (dormant companies) resign their positions immediately and full ownership of the company is transferred. We also provide you with a certificate stating that the company is in good standing.
Changing the name of a shelf company
The name of any shelf company can be changed for a fee of £25 + vat. If the purchase price of your chosen company exceeds £200 we will change the name to one of your choice free of charge
Return to our Shelf Company page
Return to the Company Formation home page
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