There are four main types of company:
Most private limited companies are owned by their shareholders and are limited by shares. This means that the liability of each member is limited to the amount unpaid on shares held by them.
Companies limited by guarantee do not have shares, and its members are guarantors rather than shareholders. The members' liability is limited to the amount they have agreed to contribute to the company's assets if it is wound up. This structure is often used by charities, Right to Manage, commonhold companies and social enterprises to limit the personal liability of their directors and trustees. See our guide on how to set up a social enterprise.
This type of company may or may not have a share capital but there is no limit to the members' liability. There are relatively few unlimited companies.
This type of company has a share capital and limits the liability of each member to the amount unpaid on their shares. PLCs:
See the page in this guide on requirements for public limited companies.
A private company limited by shares can become a plc, but it will need to re-register in order to do this. For more information on changing from a private limited company to a plc, see our guide on change of address, directors and more - what to report to Companies House.
You cannot choose a name that is the same as an existing company and you should avoid a name:
You will need to obtain special approval for a name that:
See our guide on how to choose the right name for your business.
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