Who can be a Company Director in the UK?

Man sitting at desk who could be a company director.

 

The simple answer is that almost anyone over the age of 16 can be a company director in the UK, even if you live abroad. There are some restrictions, though.

Find out more in this article:

  • How many directors does a limited company need?
  • Does a company director have to live in the UK?
  • How old must a company director be?
  • Reasons why you cannot be a company director

 

How many directors does a limited company need?

If you are planning to start your own company, it is important to know that every registered limited company in the UK needs to have at least 1 company director.

You may not know this but in small businesses the company director(s) can be the same people as the shareholders.

While there are very few restrictions on who can be a company shareholder there are some rules about who can be a company director.

As with most aspects of Company Law in the UK the 2006 Companies Act sets the rules on Company Directors.

One of its stipulations is that at least one of the company directors must be a:

Real or natural person

This is because of a trend towards companies being founded by other companies, which in turn would be founded by other companies making it virtually impossible to track the people behind them.

Does a company director have to live in the UK?

A director of a UK company can live anywhere in the world and does not have to be a UK resident.

How old must a company director be?

As well as one of them being a ‘natural’ person company directors must be over the age of 16.

16th birthday baloon - Company directors must be 16 years old

However for practical reasons it is often best not to have directors under the age of 18 as this is the legal majority in the UK and having someone under this age signing contracts on behalf of the company could cause problems.

Reasons why you cannot be a company director

The first, and probably best known reason why you can’t be a company director, is if you are an ‘undischarged bankrupt’. (In other words if bankruptcy proceedings are ongoing against you).

It is possible to apply for an exemption from the courts to allow undischarged bankrupts to be a company director but this is fairly rare.

The second reason why you cannot be a company director is if you have been disqualified from being a company director by the courts. Disqualification occurs when a company director has been found to break the rules on running a limited company and it is deemed that the person is unfit to hold the “office” of director for a period of time. Again exemptions to this rule are possible but rare.

People can be disqualified from being a company director for a variety of reasons including:

Fraud, failure to keep proper records and persistently breaching company laws

Disqualifications normally last from 2 to 15 years.

As with the bankruptcy clause, disqualification from being a company director requires specific court action to have been taken against you.

So assuming that you are over the age of 16 and no court proceedings have been made against you then you can be a company director in the UK. No other qualifications are required.

Interested in starting your own company? Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of a limited company

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