Closing a limited company

You usually need the agreement of your company’s directors and shareholders to close a limited company. The way you close the company depends on whether or not it can pay its bills.

If the company can pay its bills (it is ‘solvent’)

You can either:

  • apply to get the company struck off the Register of Companies
  • start a members’ voluntary liquidation

Striking off the company is usually the cheapest way to close it.

The company can’t pay its bills (it is ‘insolvent’)

When your company is insolvent, the interests of the people your company owes money to (its creditors) legally come before those of the directors or shareholders.

You must arrange the liquidation of your company.

Your company might be forced into compulsory liquidation if you don’t pay creditors.

You may be able to avoid liquidation by applying for a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

If the company doesn’t have a director

You must appoint a new director if your company doesn’t have one, for example if a sole director has died.

Companies House will eventually strike off a company that doesn’t have a director, but this can make it more difficult to manage any company assets.

Shareholders must agree to appoint a new director and may need to vote on it.
If a sole director has died and there aren’t any shareholders the executor of the estate can appoint a new director, as long as the company’s articles allow it.

The new director can close the company.

Your company still needs to pay corporation tax and file a tax return even if there’s no director.

Let the company become dormant

You don’t have to close your company if it’s no longer trading. You can let it become ‘dormant’ for tax as long as it’s not:

  • carrying on business activity
  • trading
  • receiving income

Your company will still be registered at Companies House. You must still send your annual accounts and confirmation statement (previously annual return) to Companies House.

You can keep a limited company dormant for as long as you want.