Buy A Shelf Company

Is time of the essence? You want to buy a limited company but don’t want the headache of wading through the mountain of pre-planning and legal issues? Then buying a shelf company could be the answer.

What’s a shelf company? It’s a ready made business, previously registered at Companies House, but now a dormant limited company. These companies don’t have a trading history and once the sale goes through, you can start trading immediately. That’s one of the major benefits.

A shelf company is one that has been created and left with no activity – metaphorically put on the “shelf” to “age”. The company can then be sold to a person or group of person who wishes to start a company without going through all the procedures of creating a new one.

The opportunity to buy a company off the shelf, as the title suggests, means you’d be buying a ready made company, a bit like an off the peg wedding dress from Debenhams, rather than getting yourself personally measured up for a designer label.

It’s worth considering the benefits and drawbacks before you buy a ready made company. When you buy a company off the shelf, it’s all about convenience, the company has already been registered and URL already done on your behalf. In essence you’re buying a finished product, which is quick, easy and you’re ready to get started.

On the down side, a bit like buying an item of clothing off the peg, you might find the garment doesn’t fit perfectly, perhaps it’s a bit tight across the back, or short in the sleeves. Likewise buying off the shelf companies call for compromise and finding the nearest fit possible.

It’s advisable to find a reputable broker to represent you, as what you get when you buy a shelf company can differ between broker to broker but should include some of the following:

  • Registration at Companies House or equivalent abroad
  • A domain name
  • Website hosting and design
  • Email addresses
  • Free accounting
  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Statutory rights


It’s also worth bearing in mind that buying a ready made shelf company is usually more expensive than registering a new company and can incur a holding fee. Plus annual returns and corporation returns may also have been filed at a cost to the company’s vendor and they’ll be expecting you to cover these costs.

To avail the benefits of pre-registered companies and buying a company from formations house is a very simple process. A large number of ready made company names with suitably drafted business documents are ready for immediate transfer in your name. Each company is certified to have not traded, and having the ability to trade in virtually any business area preferred, irrespective of the name.


The common reasons for buying off the shelf companies include:

  • Saving time as there’s no need to create a new corporation.
  • To gain the opportunity to bid on contracts, (some jurisdictions require companies to have been in business for a certain length of time).
  • To gain access to corporate credit.
  • The ability to attract consumers or investors because of proof of corporate longevity