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Legal Advice

Letterhead legal requirements: a handy list to help you get it right

By 31 July 2012No Comments

When you’re designing your company letterhead it may seem like anything goes and you will probably focus on the font and paper type. But there are certain legal requirements that if you ignore will forfeit all the hard work you’ve put in to starting your business.

Below is a list of everything you need to know, regardless of your type of business, so that you can get it right and not waste your time designing a letterhead that does not comply with the legal requirements.

The bare essentials

The Companies Act states that the basic things all businesses must display on their letterheads are:

  • The name of the business
  • The part of the country the business is registered e.g. England
  • The registered company number
  • The address of the registered office
  • The address of any other business location; unless it is primarily living accommodation

Other rules apply to specific types of business and these are detailed below.

Sole traders

If you are a sole trader you must include your name (i.e the name of the director must be displayed) and your registered business address on all business stationary including letterheads.


If your company is a partnership then you must include the names of all partners and a principal office address on letterheads, orders, invoices and receipts. If your company does not have a principal office then you must list the addresses at which the partners can be found.

Limited companies

If the company is exempt from the requirement to use ‘limited’ in its name is must state the fact that it is limited. Letterheads and order forms, whether hard copy or electronic must give the name of the company, the place of registration, the company registration and the address of the office or place of business if different.

This also applies if the company is a community interest and not public, therefore it too must state that it is limited.

Charitable companies

Under Section 68 of the Charities Act 1993 if the company name does not use ‘charity’ or ‘charitable’ then all company documents including letterheads must state that the company is a charity.

Overseas companies

If your company is overseas then the same rules apply.

Wound up?

If your company is winding up, is in administration, receivership or a moratorium then you must state this on all business communication, including letterheads whether it is a hard copy or electronic.

Other points to consider

  • If a company is an investment company as defined by Section 833 of the Companies Act 2006 then they must state that it is this type of company in all business communication.
  • If the company has chosen to display its share capital then it must display the amount of paid up share capital.
  • A company does not have to display its directors’ names but if it chooses too then it is all or nothing. The company cannot be selective about which director it chooses to list.

Letterheads, along with most business stationery, have many purposes from direct marketing to invoicing. Aside from the legal requirements most also include a telephone and fax number, a web address and an email address for the company.

This list should have provided you with a clear and simple guide to designing your letterhead. Remember, whilst the design and paper type are your choice, the legal requirements are not.

Right, now that the legal stuff is out the way (phew) call us to discuss the fun stuff and let’s get designing!