Your Business Documents

Business Stationery
Every company must have its name mentioned in legible characters in
all business letters, notices and other official publications of the
company, and in all bills of exchange, promissory notes, endorsements,
cheques, orders, bills of parcels, invoices, receipts and letters of credit
of the company. In addition, under the European Communities Act
1972, every company must show in all business letters and order
forms, the place of registration of the company, and the number with
which it is registered; the address of its registered office; and in the
case of a limited company exempt from the obligation to use the word
‘limited’ as part of its name, the fact that it is a limited company. Also, if
there is a reference on stationery to share capital, the reference must be
to paid-up share capital.
If the names of any of the directors of the company appear on a
business letter (other than as part of the text or as a signatory) the
names of all other directors must also appear on the letter, in legible
characters. Where all the names are required, they must include the
forename or initial and surname of every individual director, and the
corporate name of every corporate director. This requirement applies to
(a) every company registered under the Companies Act since 22
November 1916 and (b) every company incorporated outside Great
Britain and having an established place of business within Great Britain
(unless it had established such a place of business prior to 23 November
There are special requirements relating to European economic Interest
Groupings, Welsh name companies, charitable companies, unregistered
companies, insolvent companies, employment agencies and businesses,
and investment businesses. Further information appears in the BPIF
booklet, ‘Business Stationery: a Guide to Legal Requirements’.
NOTE: These notes are intended to provide helpful information, best practice, general
ideas and suggestions. Always speak to your BPIF Business Centre for advice,
assistance or training available via BPIF advisers, consultants and training courses.
For advice on any technical issues – reviewing equipment, productivity, and
investment in new technology, consult your BPIF National Technical Adviser
May 2003
Business Names
The law relating to business names is derived mainly from two statutes:
1) Business Names Act 1985 - This Act is relevant to any persons
who have a place of business in Great Britain and carry on business
from it in a name which:
In the case of a partnership does not consist of the surnames
(Christian names or initials may be included) of all the partners who
are individuals or corporate bodies
In the case of an individual does not consist of his surname
(Christian name or initials may be included)
In the case of a company does not consist of its corporate name
2) Companies Act 1985 - This Act relates to companies incorporated
in Great Britain.
Where a business is carried on in a name other than that of the
individual, partners or company, it shall display in a prominent position
so as may be easily read the following:
In the case of an individual, his name and address
In the case of a partnership, the name and address of each
partner. Partnerships of 20 partners or more are excluded from the
requirement to list partners if the document states the address of
the partnership's principal place of business and that a list of the
partners is open to inspection at that place.
In the case of a company, its corporate name and address at which
documents may be served
The same shall be stated in legible characters on all business letters,
written orders for goods or services to be supplied to the business,
invoices and receipts issued in the course of business and written
demands for payment of debts arising in the course of business. It
should be noted that there is no legal requirement for business names
to be registered.
May 2003
A company must have a registered office in the UK to which notices may
be sent. At the registered office the name of the company must be
displayed in a prominent place.
A company must mention in legible characters on its business letters
and order forms the following:
The place of registration
The registered number (As shown on the certificate of incorporation)
The address of the registered office
If the company is exempt from using the word limited in its name,
the fact that it is limited
Where relevant, the fact that the company is an investment company
Where there is reference to share capital it must be paid-up share
A company must display all or none of its directors on its documents, it
may not be selective as to which directors' names it shows. If directors'
names are shown then Christian names or initials must be shown. The
corporate name of every corporate director must be shown.
NB. The term 'director' includes shadow directors.
Passing Off
If your business name is very similar or the same as another business,
they may have a right of action against you if they can show that any
benefit may be derived from using their name.
May 2003
VAT Invoices
Where a business is registered for VAT it is required to supply a tax
invoice to a customer (NB a retailer is not required to supply a tax
invoice unless the customer requests it). Where an invoice is requested
it should be a full invoice unless the consideration is less than £100 in
which case a less detailed tax invoice may be used.
All tax invoices must include the following:
the name, address and registration number of the supplier
the time of supply (Tax Point)
a description sufficient to identify the goods or services supplied
the total amount payable including VAT
the rate of tax in force at the time of supply
The further information to be included on a full tax invoice is:
the date of issue of the document (not always the tax point)
an identifying number
the name and address of the customer
the type of supply by reference to the following categories:
by sale
on hire purchase or any similar transaction
by loan
by way of exchange
on hire, lease or rental
of goods made from customers’ materials
by sale on commission
on sale or return or similar terms
for each description in "c" above, the quantity of the goods or extent
of the services , the rate of tax and amount payable, excluding tax,
expressed in sterling
the gross amount payable, excluding tax
the rate of any cash discount offered
each rate of tax chargeable (including zero rate) and the amount of
tax at each rate
the total amount of tax chargeable
May 2003
May 2003
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