Private vs. Public Limited Companies: A Detailed Comparison

Private vs Public Limited Companies

Deciding on the best legal structure for your UK business is a big step. If you’re considering a limited company, it’s vital to grasp the differences between private and public limited companies. These distinctions affect everything from fundraising to management to how much information you’re required to disclose.

The Basics of Limited Companies

Limited companies offer a key advantage: liability protection. This means that the company, as its own legal person, is responsible for its debts and obligations.  In most cases, your personal assets are shielded if the business has financial difficulties.

Private Limited Companies: Keeping Things Close

  • Ownership: Shares in a private limited company cannot be offered to the public on the stock exchange. This keeps ownership within a smaller, selected group of investors.
  • Flexibility: Often favoured by small to medium-sized businesses, private limited companies have fewer regulatory burdens. There’s no requirement for an Annual General Meeting, and there’s no minimum amount of starting capital required.
  • Control: Decision-making can be faster within a private structure since you aren’t beholden to a huge number of public shareholders.

Read more about Private Limited Companies in the UK

Public Limited Companies: Going Big

  • Raising Capital: The main draw of a PLC is the ability to sell shares on the stock market. This opens up vast possibilities for raising money to fuel growth.
  • Prestige: Being listed on the stock market can increase your company’s visibility and credibility.
  • Scrutiny: With the benefits come trade-offs. PLCs face stricter regulations, greater transparency requirements, and the pressure of meeting public shareholder expectations.
  • Minimums: You’ll need at least £50,000 in share capital, two directors, and a qualified company secretary to get your PLC up and running.

Comparison Table (Expanded)


Private Limited Company

Public Limited Company (PLC)

Share sales

Private only

Can sell shares on the stock market

Minimum share capital

No minimum


People to start

1 director, 1 shareholder

2 directors, 1 secretary

Annual General Meeting

Not required


Disclosure of information

Less public disclosure

Must publish detailed financial reports


Beyond the Basics

  • Taxes: Both types of limited companies pay Corporation Tax on profits. However, how you receive income from the business (salary vs. dividends) can create tax planning differences.
  • Changing your mind: While possible, it can be challenging to switch from a private to a public company (or vice versa) later on. Careful initial planning is important.

Getting the Right Advice

The world of business structures can be complex!  If you’re unsure whether a private or public limited company is the right choice, get in touch with usTaxAce LTD Accountants. We’ll guide you through the pros and cons, helping you choose the structure that aligns with your business vision.

Contabila UK - Founder and CEO -TaxAce - Iurie Bivol

Iurie Bivol


Entrepreneur and accountant with 15 years of experience in the UK.

Contabilitate UK - Senior Tax Assistant - Alina Costreie

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