New £18 web incorporation service

Kashflow logo has introduced a cheaper, easier to use Web Incorporation Service.

The new site allows anyone to set up a private company limited by shares for £18. All that is needed is an email address, a password and the usual information of company name, plus details of directors and shareholders.

After the necessary automated checks the certificate of incorporation is issued within 24 hours. For such a basic sum you obviously only get a basic service which means no registers, no share certificates or company seal but these are not needed for the majority of the directors that will use this service. The articles will be the default 2006 Articles.

Questions asked on Any Answers confirm that company formations continue to be a concern for advisers and their clients. A recent query about currently available agent services highlighted a wide range of suppliers, ranging in const from £16.99 to £119. They include:

An article is being prepared for that will detail the different legal methods of incorporation and consider the benefits or otherwise of each. Member feedback on the different commercial services will also be compiled into a companion guide.

Company formations sponsors

Jordans      Formations Direct        

About Jennifer Adams


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By Ian Thompson
20th May 2011 09:21


And Business Link is supposed to help small businesses! This is encouraging Joe Bloggs to become Joe Bloggs Limited with no consideration for whether it is in his interests. Does Business Link discuss the legal and tax implications with Mr Bloggs? Does Business Link arrange the registration of the company for corporation tax? Help set up the necessary accounting records? Consider whether it should be registered for VAT? Explain the effect when the bank asks for a personal guarantee? etc etc. Suprise suprise Business Link is on its way out! 

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20th May 2011 10:22 isn't going away

Thanks for the insight - definitely a side effect of easy, online incorporation (though if you follow the link to the previous Any Answer, it was significant that practicing accountants were putting the different names forward).

However, I have to correct your impression that BusinessLink is going away. The government is doing away with the old regional business advice network, and the motley collection of consultants who plied their trade through it. But while that is happening, MORE investment and attention is being devoted to the website, which is being positioned as a one-stop shop for guidance and business support services. This new incorporation service is part of that process.

As part of a parallel redevelopment of HMRC's website, a lot of the general advice material is being moved over to

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20th May 2011 12:43

what is Abbeydale on about

this is to be welcomed - its called free choice

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By Ian Thompson
20th May 2011 13:20

What I'm On About/Businsess Link Not Going Away

-- Abbeydale


What am I on about? The free choice has been there for years; just enter company formation or similar on google and see the vast choice already there. As for Business Link not going away. To most start-ups etc (Who are the people normally looking to Business Link) a website will not be anything like the assistance that they are looking for which is clear and personal explanation. Let's face it, whatever we all thought of Business Link (Sorry, a website is not the same thing), all we have in a website is an attempt to cover up a cost-cutting exercise.  

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20th May 2011 13:39

Money Laundering Regs

Is BusinessLink/Companies House required to register with HMRC as an agent for the purposes of the Regs? If not, is this not unfair state aid to a government service, given that formation agents are regulated?

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23rd May 2011 15:09

Business Link

As a company formation agent of 17 years standing and a member of ACRA I can advise you that "you get what you pay for" - at £18 , which includes £14 to Companies House one has to ask what sort of guidance and support people are getting.

For the extra that an agent charges you know you have back-up and advice as there is a relationship . Also, you don't have the headache of dealing with Companies House if there is a rejection.

It may well work for those who know what they are doing , have no requirement for any hard copy Articles and don't  mind waiting a few days for the certificate. That is until something goes wrong.

Are default Articles the best ones to use or is there a better variant from a reputable agent , such as an ACRA member  like ourselves at  ?


As professional advisers you have a duty of care to your clients - do the best for them or at least ask them if they want it "okay but perhaps could do better" or if they want "the best for a few pounds more" . 

In the long term cheap can often end up being dear , but as others are saying - it's about choice


Make sure you choose wisely !






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24th May 2011 00:15

You do protest too much

Firstly, I regularly get new clients who have formed their own Ltd Companies through agents where no consideration or advice has been offered, the last one had 3 shareholders with issued share cap of £1K each, and a turnover of £5K, so I don't see that another one stop shop is going to make much difference.

Secondly, BusinessLink's website is great, it has saved me weeks of explanations and factsheets over the years. When advising clients I can tune advice to their particular needs but refer them to the site to gen up on the nitty gritty of practically anything to do with business.  To anyone that DISs it have you actually been to it?  Asd a taster have a look at the Starting Up section, I would suggest that a potential business owner would get better info from here than many accountants I've come across.


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25th May 2011 14:06

Great resource

I'm with Paul on directing clients to the Businesslink website (and they have a page on how to choose an accountant) for general advice. The cheap formation service is just one of many on the market. Neither the website nor the formations are in competition with the individual advice that an accountant can offer. As with most things in life you get what you pay for.

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25th May 2011 14:47

No need for statutory registers?

So they provide a basic service without share certificates and statutory registers 'because these are not needed for the majority of directors'. Really? I thought every company needed them.

Like many of us here I have spent time (and earned fees) sorting out companies that clients have registered themselves and messed up. The most extreme example was a client who invested £200K in a business to be owned 50/50 by himself and his wife, and managed to only issue shares to his wife.

I actually liked (the old) Business Link. They provided some really useful support to fledgling businesses, although some of their advice was a bit suspect.

The online Company Formation services are a bit risky though as the business owners need advice not just on deciding that a limited company is the right structure, but how to set it up (e.g. alphabet shares etc may be useful). Having said that though, business link will just be one more player in that field.

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25th May 2011 15:38

a criminal offence

not to keep registers/ statutory books.

Is it ever inforced  NO !

are they required therefore ? only if you ask your accountants !

simples , don't ask your accountant.

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31st May 2011 17:02

I've Just tried it

I'd rather pay the £30 to Stanley Davis.

Issues with Business Link Incorporation service:

1. Takes 2 working days to incorporate

2. Doesn't check for you if the company name exists, or is similar to another, you'd just have to wait until it was rejected, which could take 2 working days.

3. Doesn't allow you to select shareholders from list of directors you've just input. I just put in 4 directors and had to put the same info for each director in again when doing the subsccriber shares, inlcuding the 3 authentication characters/digits.

I hope these issues are changed sometime soon, however, I doubt it.

Good luck!


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to ShirleyM
28th Oct 2011 11:59

Companies Made Simple

I have formed a number of companies via - and I completely advocate their simple system and service. Bit disappointing they weren't highlighted in this article - as having worked with them as an independent consultant, I'm aware that they not only were the first to revolutionise the company formation process from offline to online - but they are the market leaders with the largest market share - and pretty much, if they make a move, many 'me too-er's seem to follow.  

Call me biased if you wish - however, I'm a highly ethical consultant. Hence why I've mentioned, I've worked with them.  One of the elements I worked on was a research report into each and every online company formation process (actually going through the process of forming a company) effectively a 'Which' type review.  Looking at competitor activity, simplicity of service, customer support, customer feedback, authenticity, transparency, functionality, usability, backend systems (accessing your company once it's formed to make changes etc) features, benefits and price. In my experience, you'd be hard pushed to find a better company formation agent - that provides not only a retail service to new start ups, but also a wholesale offering for professional services firms. There's a reason why they are the official appointed company formation partner of ICAEW.  

Rant over...


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05th Jul 2011 16:08

formation recommendation





i cannot over-recommend companiesmadesimple.

they even use knowledgable and helpful staff, and manage to appear uk-based.

And the online interface is great to use, and the built in online stat records facilities are excellent.


The only thing they can't handle is when you change your coho online code, then it's knickers down.



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30th Oct 2013 16:29

User experience

There are a few company formation agents offering business corporations services. All these agents use a system, called Efiling. As a company formation agent, we always recommend to consider following aspects:

Is the agent accredited by Companies House?Is there any hidden cost?Packages prices of which you can take advantageIs the website secure and user friendly?Does the website provides enough information about company incorporation?Does the (live) support delivers information you need?

The main difference between Companies House and private agents is that the private agents are able to do it within few hours (usually within 3 hours) and provide related product e.g. registered address etc. 

If you are still struggling, look for an accountant. The most of the accountants give you an experience based information about company formation agents.


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