You must choose a business structure if you’re starting a business that helps people or communities (a ‘social enterprise’).
If you want to set up a business that has social, charitable or community-based objectives, you can set up as a:
- limited company
- charity, or from 2013, a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
- community interest company (CIC)
- sole trader or business partnership
If you’re setting up a small organisation like a sports club or a voluntary group and do not plan to make a profit, you can form an ‘unincorporated association’ instead of starting a business.
Community interest companies (CICs)
A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.
To set up a CIC, you’ll need:
- a ‘community interest statement’, explaining what your business plans to do
- an ‘asset lock’- a legal promise stating that the company’s assets will only be used for its social objectives, and setting limits to the money it can pay to shareholders
- a constitution – you can use the CIC regulator’s model constitutions
- to get your company approved by the community interest company regulator – your application will automatically be sent to them
The CIC regulator has guidance on setting up a CIC.
Set up a CIC online
Register your CIC online with Companies House.
It costs £27.
You’ll need to create a Government Gateway user ID and password for your company. You cannot use your personal Government Gateway ID.
Set up a CIC by post
Use the forms from the CIC regulator to register a CIC by post.
Find out about legal forms for social enterprise.