Having a smart letterhead is an important part of how you market your business, giving your company a professional image. But just having a fancy logo and good-looking stationery isn’t enough. It’s recently been reported that Companies House is now taking a harder line with companies that don’t meet the legal requirements with respect to their business stationery. So much so that some companies may even face a fine or prosecution.
To give you a concise run-down of what is required, I’ve pulled together the information that every business owner needs to know.
The regulation set down by Companies House say that there are four main things your company’s letters must show:
1. The company’s registered name. This isn’t the trading name of the company but the name as it appears on the certificate of incorporation, including the word ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’ as it appears on the certificate. However, if you have a trading name then it’s absolutely fine for it to be shown prominently, with your registered name in small print (but it must be legible)!
2. The registered office address. This MUST be shown and must say that it is your registered address. If you trade from one address and your company is registered at another, for example, your accountant’s office, you should show both addresses.
3. The company registration number.
4. Whether your company is registered in England, England & Wales, or Scotland. If you’re not sure, this information will be shown on your certificate of incorporation. Welsh companies may use ‘Cynfngedig’ instead of ‘Limited’ but must still state in English that they are a registered company.
These regulations also apply to any communications your company sends in email form, so it’s a good idea to set up a standard template containing the required information so that everyone who sends company emails may use it.
Other documents such as invoices, order forms and compliment slips don’t need to show all the information required on emails and letters, just the company’s registered name is enough, but be warned – if you use a compliment slip as a substitute letterhead, or include any brief communications on it, this will count as a letter and therefore the rules mentioned above will apply!
It’s a criminal offence to ignore these business stationery rules, and directors and their companies can be prosecuted if they don’t comply. If the company is prosecuted, fines of up to £1000 can be levied - and if the letterheads aren’t amended to show the right details, a further fine of £100 can be imposed for every day that passes before the stationery is corrected.
The good news is that Companies House will offer advice and a warning to any companies falling short of the regulations before considering a prosecution – so you should have time to get your house in order! But why risk it? Make sure your letterheads, company stationery and email templates are showing the correct details now.
Wink Design offers a letterhead and company stationery design service as well as a re-design service for existing stationery, so if you’re looking to update your business documents why not contact me to discuss.
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