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Step 1: Apply for advance assurance

Get SEIS/EIS advance assurance to attract investors

SEIS/EIS advance assurance is an approval granted by HMRC, stating that an investment in your company will likely be eligible for tax relief. It is not a 100% guarantee for potential investors, but it will make your firm a more attractive investment opportunity.

You can start your advance assurance application here with all the documentation ready. Note that you will need your unique taxpayer reference, which can take about two weeks to arrive in the post after registering your company.

What are the benefits of having advance assurance?

When starting out, it is strange and slightly depressing to think that angel investors (individuals) invest in startups simply to access tax breaks, but this is often the case. You will meet with individual investors who are enthusiastic about investing in your company, and if you say that your startup isn’t EIS or SEIS eligible, disappointment will show on their faces. Around two-thirds of UK investors exclusively invest in SEIS/EIS-eligible opportunities.

These tax breaks encourage investment in risky new businesses. If you want to accept investment from individual investors, you should ensure that you get SEIS and EIS advance assurance before fundraising. 

How long does it take & how much does it cost?

Advance assurance approval can take months to get from HMRC, so start the clock as early as possible. 

Historically, this process would have cost £500 - £1,000, but you can now do this for free yourself by using the Government Gateway service here. Please see the document checklist at the bottom of this article for your needs.

To maximise my chance of a successful application, we can review and advise on your application, so if you need an accountant, schedule a call with Novabook here.

Is there anything I need before I apply for advance assurance?

Before applying for EIS, you will need your Unique Taxpayer Reference, which can take about two weeks to arrive in the post after you register your company. During this time, you can prepare your business plan and upload other documents to get advance assurance.

Which documents do I need to apply?

To apply for SEIS/EIS advance assurance, you will need to prepare several key documents:

  • Business Plan
    This is a pitch deck similar to what you would use for fundraising. However, it must include specific information to demonstrate to HMRC that you meet the relevant criteria under the scheme, such as the 'risk to capital' condition and your UK-based operations. We have created a template business plan that contains the slide structure and information you need to share.
  • P&L Forecast
    Include a simple profit and loss statement for the coming years within your business plan. This will show your growth aspirations and highlight the risk to capital from potentially loss-making businesses. We have a financial model for you to use that contains the slide structure and information that you will need to share.
  • Latest Accounts or Bank Statements
    Provide your Latest Accounts or Bank Statements, if available, to give a clear picture of your current financial status.
  • Other documentation
    HMRC will ask for a list of the company's current shareholders as of the date you submit your advance assurance application, a copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, and the latest draft of any investor decks or similar documents that you will share with potential investors.

FAQs to help you answer some common questions on the application

Is the company applying as a Knowledge Intensive Company?

Most startups select 'No' here. You can apply for KIC status later, and there are additional checks and delays to confirm whether or not you are knowledge-intensive.

Enter details on how your business meets the risk to capital condition.

This information should primarily be included in your Business Plan, and the SWOT analysis included in our template helps this. The main criteria of the risk to capital condition are:

  • The business has a plan to grow & develop in the long term.
  • The investments needed to achieve this growth involve risks, such as the investor losing all their money or losing more than they gain.

It is useful to demonstrate how any funds raised will help you grow your team and sales. However, this obviously increases your costs and the risk of investors losing money if they do not succeed. Showing your spending in the business plan across hiring, capex, and R&D, such as software engineering or marketing, can help to illustrate this.

The risk-to-capital condition is another reason why EIS and SEIS are usually reserved for ordinary shares. If someone has an agreement to get their money back or has a preference over other investors, this makes their investment less risky.

Which class of shares will be issued?

SEIS and EIS shares must be ordinary, non-redeemable, and not have any special security or claim on the startup's assets.

What will the expected gross assets be for the company and any subsidiaries immediately before the share issue?

Estimate your current asset position without deducting any liabilities that you may have.

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