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HMRC internal manual

VAT Groups

Eligibility for VAT group treatment: bodies corporate


A corporation is defined as: a group of people authorised by law to act as an Individual, and having its own powers, duties and liabilities. Corporations maybe either “aggregate” or “sole”:

  • “Aggregate” corporations (or bodies corporate) consist of many persons such as a company, the Mayor and citizens of a city or the dean and chapter of a cathedral.
  • “Sole” corporations are corporations which consist, at any given time of one person only, such as the King or Queen, a bishop or vicar, etc

You can find more information in V1-28: Registration Part 1.

Most bodies corporate are incorporated under the Companies Acts, but bodies may also be incorporated under other Acts of Parliament, by a specific Act of Parliament or by Royal Charter.

Bodies corporate only exist from the date of their incorporation. For companies incorporated under the Companies Acts or other Acts of Parliament, the date of incorporation is shown on their certificate of incorporation.

For bodies incorporated by Act of Parliament, the date will be given in the relevant Act. For bodies incorporated by Royal Charter, the date will be shown on the Charter.

Bodies corporate incorporated under the Companies Acts

Generally speaking, we use the definitions laid down in the Companies Acts, which provide for five classes of company:

  • public limited companies, limited either by shares or by guarantee with a share capital
  • private companies limited by shares
  • private companies limited by guarantee with a share capital
  • private companies limited by guarantee, and
  • unlimited companies.

Other types of body corporate

Bodies corporate incorporated by other means include:

  • bodies specifically incorporated by Act of Parliament; eg the Port of London Authority, the National Coal Board, the Atomic Energy Authority, the Independent Television Commission, the Post Office, etc
  • bodies incorporated by Royal Charter; eg the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Institute of Directors and the British Standards Institute
  • bodies incorporated under other Acts of Parliament, such as the Building Societies Acts, the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, the Credit Unions Act, the Further and Higher Education Act and the Limited Liability Partnerships Act, etc
  • bodies incorporated by company law of another country e.g. German GmBH.
  • The Crown