A certificate of good standing is an important document for any business. It confirms that your company has been in continuous, unbroken existence since its incorporation and that no action is currently being taken to strike the company off the register.

In this article, we will explore: 

  • What a certificate of good standing is 
  • When you need one 
  • Whether your document requires notarisation and apostille
  • The key distinctions between a certificate of good standing and a certificate of incumbency.


What is a Certificate of Good Standing?

If you’re reading this, you are probably already aware of your company’s certificate of incorporation. This document acknowledges the date the business was registered as an individual legal entity.

As time goes on, you may need a certificate of good standing to show that the business is still operating and free of any legal challenges. It is sometimes referred to as a letter of good standing or a certificate of authorisation

The process of obtaining this certificate is simple:

  1. Go to the gov.uk Companies House website, click ‘Find company information’, then ‘Start now’.
  2. Search the name of your business and select the correct company.
  3. Navigate to the ‘More’ tab.
  4. Select ‘Order Certificate’ and fill in the form.

If you run into issues receiving a certificate, it could be that your company has failed to stay up-to-date with its filings. Naturally, if you have not yet registered with Companies House, the document will not be available.


A man in a smart blue suit sits at a desk in a nice office full of plants. He reads a certificate of good standing document with a ballpoint pen in his hand.


In addition to a statement confirming a company’s good standing, the certificate will always show a company’s name (and former names), company number, and date of incorporation. You can specifically request that it shows further information, such as:

  • The current and any previous registered office address;
  • Directors’ names and details such as correspondence address, occupation, date of birth (month/year), appointment date, nationality, and country of residence;
  • Secretaries’ names and details such as correspondence address and appointment date;
  • The company’s objects.


How Does it Compare to a Certificate of Incumbency?

A certificate of good standing is very similar to a certificate of incumbency however, unlike the latter, the former will not include details about the shareholding.

Following implementation of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, since November 2016, Companies House stopped issuing certificates of good standing showing details of the shareholding, shareholders and statement of capital.

Whilst a certificate of incumbency is a common document internationally, in the UK there is no official document called a certificate of incumbency.

Both documents are similar in that they can include certain details about the company:

  • Name
  • Registration number
  • Office address
  • Place of registration
  • Directors’ details

If you have a UK company and are asked to provide a certificate of incumbency, you will need to provide both the certificate of good standing and an additional document filed at Companies House showing the shareholding, such as the Confirmation Statement or Form IN01(ef).

Outside of the UK, a certificate of incumbency may be issued by the local company registrar, or a registered agent who manages the company’s affairs.


When Do You Need a Certificate of Good Standing?

  1. Business Transactions: Whether you’re seeking funds, entering into contracts, or forming partnerships, many third parties will require a certificate of good standing. It assures them that the business is legitimate, operational, and compliant with the UK’s regulations.
  2. Expanding Operations: If you plan to expand your business to another country, you might need to provide a certificate of good standing from Companies House. Bear in mind that they may ask for a certificate of incumbency instead. 
  3. Government Compliance: Government agencies may need a certificate of good standing to approve an application for a permit/licence or to supply your business with a contract.
  4. Internal Filing: Many companies choose to file their certificate of good standing routinely so the information is easily accessible. This also means you’re prepared should somebody request it.


Notary and Apostille for Business Documents

We can help with processing your certificate of good standing or certificate of incumbency.

One of our trusted notaries will order your certificate of good standing directly from Companies House. We can then notarise the original document, or make a photocopy of the original and notarise the copy.

We can order the certificate to arrive directly at our office, saving you time. Our experienced team can notarise the document on the day we receive it. We are conveniently based in London Victoria and accept documents in person or by secure mail.

If you have a foreign certificate of incumbency, you will need to provide us with the original document. We can contact the issuer to confirm it is authentic and can make a copy of the original to notarise.

If you need an apostille and any embassy legalisation, we can arrange this for you as soon as possible.


How to Ensure Your Business is Legally Recognised by International Parties

  1. Check with the organisation what documents they require and whether these need notarisation and/or an apostille.
  2. Request your certificate of good standing from Companies House. Get in touch with us to arrange notarisation and/or apostille of the certificate. 


Looking for advice or ready to get your documents legalised? We’ve been doing this for over 40 years and will be happy to assist. Get in touch with our team using the form below or call 020 7630 1777.