What is a Share Certificate?

A share certificate is issued at the time of a share in a company being granted. This may be at the time the company is first registered or at some point afterwards. Each shareholder receives a certificate that confirms the total number of share they hold as well as the class of share concerned. It isn’t necessary to issue a certificate per share, just per shareholder. Thankfully!

Share certificates should be kept for as long as the shares are held by the shareholder and replacements can only be issued if one is damaged or lost. If they are damaged the company should be responsible for destroying the document and issuing a new document. If a certificate is lost, companies may ask for proof of identity prior to reissuing one of these documents. However, many small companies have very few shareholders and they are normally known to the company directors.

There is no legal format for share certificates. Companies can create their own share certificates but, as with most things, there is a usual way that the majority of UK companies will present and issue these certificates. They are quite often A4 and printed landscape, possibly because that is more certificate-like. More recently they are issued electronically and in portrait layout.

Most shareholders will put the share certificate with their incorporation documents in a file and forget about them. Occasionally, banks and accountants, for example, may request an original printed version so make sure you know where yours is stored.

Share certificates contain this information:

  • Certificate number
  • Company name and registration number in which the shares are held
  • Registered office of company
  • Name and address of shareholder
  • Quantity, nominal value and type of share issued
  • If the shares are partly paid, fully paid or unpaid
  • Authorising signatures

On registering your company, you will receive your share certificates from your company formation agent. They should also provide the memorandum and articles of association, first minutes and your certificate of incorporation. Together these documents are known as your ‘incorporation documents’.

If you choose to set up your company online with a formation agent like Simple Formations, you will be able to access your incorporation documents in PDF format once your company registration complete. You can also chose a package whereby you receive a printed set. This will come in handy when applying for bank accounts. We also provide you with additional certificates for your future use.