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HMRC internal manual

VAT Registration

HM Revenue & Customs
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Entity to be registered: Incorporated companies and other corporate bodies


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 may be either ‘aggregate’ or ‘sole’.

Aggregate corporations (or corporate bodies) consist of many persons, such as:

  • a company
  • the mayor and citizens of a city
  • 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, and so on.

Creation of a corporation

Most bodies corporate are incorporated under the Companies Acts, but bodies incorporated by the other means are not uncommon. The main ones are:

  • under some other Act of Parliament such as the Building Societies Acts, the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, the Credit Unions Act, the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, the Police and Magistrates Court Act 1994, Universities in England and Wales, etc
  • by an Act of Parliament which is enacted specifically to establish and incorporate a named corporation, such as The Port of London Authority, The Atomic Energy Authority, the Independent Television Commission and the Post Office
  • by Royal Charter, such as the BBC, British Standards Institute and the Institute of Directors.