Make sure your business meets UK legal requirements for company trading with our guide to the information you must be include on your company’s stationery.
Every business needs to create business stationery for communicating with customers and suppliers. Professional business stationery such as letterheads and business cards can help market your company, convey your brand and message, as well as allow customers to differentiate between your business and others.
But before you start designing your business stationery, it’s important to know that certain information must be included by law. If you fail to comply with these legal obligations, the company itself and every company officer may have committed an offence and be liable to a fine of up to £1,000.
What to include when you create business stationery
Your company’s full name must be stated clearly on all business stationery including letters, order forms, invoices, emails and business websites. In addition, there are additional requirements for specific items of stationery, such as business letterheads, order forms and websites, which must be taken into account. This information varies according to the type of business you run.
Sole trader business stationery
As a sole trader, you can trade under your own name or use a business name. However, you must include your own name – even if you use a different business name – along with your business address on all business letters, order forms, invoices, receipts and company websites.
Business stationery for business partnerships
Business letters, order forms, invoices, receipts and your company web site must display the names of all partners and the address of your registered office. If there are too many partners to include, you can instead indicate where a list of partners can be found (such as on your business web site).
Business stationery for limited companies
If you trade as a limited company, your business letterhead, order forms and web site must show:
• the full registered name of the company
• the company registration number and place of registration
• the address of the registered office and the address of its place of business, if different.
• you don’t need to list the names of the company directors, but if you opt to do so, then you must include all of them.
• if the company is being wound up, this fact must be stated.
There are a few other requirements for certain businesses, which must be included on their business letters, order forms and websites:
• A limited company that’s exempt from using ‘limited’ in its registered name must state that it is a limited company on its business stationery.
• A charitable company whose names doesn’t use the words ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ must state that it’s a charity on its stationery.
• An investment company within the meaning of section 833 of the Companies Act 2006 must state that it is such a company.
• A company with share capital that chooses to display this information, must show the amount of paid-up share capital rather than the authorized capital.
Other rules may apply, depending on the nature of your business. For example, if your company provides financial services, you may need to state that the company is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Your industry regulator will be able to provide information on industry-specific legal requirements and best practice.
Additional legal requirements for invoices
If your business is registered for VAT, your invoices must display your VAT registration number and follow certain rules. Learn more with our free guide to What is VAT?