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Do I need the leading 0 in company numbers?

In the United Kingdom, companies register with Companies House and get a Company Registration Number. This unique company number is very useful for understanding who received a grant, when the receiving organisation is a registered company.

In general, the Company Registration Number or the Company Number is a unique combination of eight digits, which in some cases includes letters as well as numbers. The majority of company numbers for companies registered in England and Wales start with a leading zero, for example:

Open Data Services Co-Operative Limited

Company Number 09506232

So, do you need to publish the leading zero? In a nutshell, yes. The leading zero is part of the official number and so needs to be published.

Why does the leading zero disappear?

In spreadsheets like Excel, the column with company number might get mistaken for a number, so Excel will drop the leading 0. As you’ll never add, multiply, or do any sort of calculation with a Company Number it should be treated as a string. You can fix this in Excel by formatting the column as text. See guidance on how to do this here.

Can I just add a 0 to all Company Numbers?

Unfortunately, no you can’t. Sometimes the company number starts with a prefix. A prefix tells us that the company is a specific type or based outside England and Wales. So be careful not to add a leading zero where it isn’t needed, for example a Scottish company number begins with SC.