When it comes to corporate transparency in the UK, anyone who runs a company is required to provide certain personal information to Companies House. This personal information is placed on public record, which means that those individuals can be held accountable for the running of their company. While this makes robust sense in the interests of transparency, having personal details on public record can sometimes pose a risk. For example, those who work in sensitive sectors (such as defence) may wish to keep their details off the public record for their personal safety. Directors, PSCs (persons with significant control) and LLP members who are in this situation may therefore apply to Companies House to have their personal information suppressed. A personal address can also be removed from the public company register. In this article we will explain how you can apply to protect your personal information on that register.
What personal information is available on the public register of companies?
Companies House maintains the register of companies in the UK. In return for enjoying the benefits of limited liability directors and members are legally required to be open and transparent. This means that some of the information provided to Companies House at registration and subsequently is made publicly available. For company directors this information includes their:
- date of birth (month and year only) and
- “service address” – i.e. their correspondence address for the public register.
This information is made available through a number of publicly available channels, including the Companies House Service (CHS) and the Companies House contact centre.
In addition to the above, details on how persons with significant control (PSCs) run the company is made public. It is important to note, however, that home addresses (i.e. usual residential addresses) and full dates of birth are not placed on the public register but, instead, are kept on a private register. Home addresses and full dates of birth are, however, provided to credit reference agencies (CRAs) and specified public authorities (SPAs) e.g. the police.
Protecting your personal information on the Companies House register
Companies House has a formal process that allows registered company directors and Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) members to protect their personal details. This is only available to applicants in certain circumstances. The rules state that, as a director, PSC or LLP member, you can apply for protection if you (and/or someone with whom you live) are “at serious risk of violence or intimidation because of your company’s or LLP’s activities”. Examples of being at serious risk of violence or intimidation may include if you or your business:
- Have been targeted by and is at risk of harm by activists
- Are licensed under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986
- Operate in the defence sector, or
- Are an easily traceable supplier to (or partner of) such an organisation.
This list of valid protection scenarios is by no means exhaustive and every application to Companies House will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. When applying to Companies House for protection you will need to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you and/or someone with whom you live are at genuine risk.
Who can apply for protection?
You can apply for protection to Companies House whether you have already been appointed or you are yet to be appointed as:
- An individual director, PSC or LLP member
- A company or LLP – such an application is made on behalf of the directors, PSCs or LLP members
- A subscriber to a memorandum – this applies where a company or LLP has not yet been incorporated with Companies House
What protection is available from Companies House?
Under the current rules there are two main forms of protection. The method that you use will depend on whether you are a director, PSC or LLP member.
1. Home address protection for Company directors, PSCs and LLP members
Directors, PSCs and LLP members can apply to have their home address protected from credit reference agencies (CRAs). This protection is provided under section 243 of the Companies Act 2006 (for directors and LLP members) and section 790ZF of the Companies Act 2006 (for PSCs).
2. Complete protection for PSCs only
In accordance with section 790ZF of the Companies Act 2006, only PSCs can apply to have all of their personal information protected. If you make a successful application for protection as a PSC then none of your information as a PSC will be shown on the public register. In addition, Companies House will not make your home address available to CRAs. The rules also state that, as a PSC, you can apply for both CRA and complete protection.
To apply for protection as a PSC you must demonstrate that:
- You or someone with whom you live will be at serious risk of violence or intimidation if you are linked with the company or LLP due to either:
- The business activities of the company or LLP or
- Your personal circumstances when associated with the company or LLP.
Companies House gives the example of a PSC who is affiliated with a religious community but whose business activities conflict with the religion in question.
It is important to note that you do not need to wait until your company or LLP is incorporated or you have registered as a director, PSC or LLP member. You can apply for protection at any time. It is advisable, however, to apply for protection before you register your information with Companies House. This will ensure that your information is not sent to CRAs in the first place.
How to apply to Companies House for protection
The application process can be completed either online on the Companies House website or by post. Online applications typically take around 20 minutes to complete. Companies House states that you will need to use the postal method if:
- you want to protect the information in documents
- your company is not registered with Companies House
- you are a PSC and you want to protect both your identity and your home address . . . or
- you are applying for a limited liability partnership (LLP).
Postal application forms can be requested from email@example.com. Once completed, the form and any required evidence must be posted to the following address:
The Registrar of Companies
PO Box 4082
Depending upon your circumstances, you may need to provide evidence to support your protection application. This may include (but is not limited to) the following:
- A police incident number if you have been attacked
- Evidence that you have been threatened or attacked
- Evidence that shows a likelihood of disruption or targeting, such as by animal rights or other activists, or
- Evidence that you work for an organisation with sensitive business activities.
In addition to the application form and the evidence required you will need to pay an application fee of £100. If your home address has already been protected by Companies House then you will need to pay only £15 for an abbreviated application. If you submit an abbreviated application then you will not need to provide any of the above evidence again.
Once your application, evidence and fee have been received by Companies House they will normally provide a decision within 30 days. Complicated applications, however, may take rather longer. If necessary, they may request more information to support your application for protection. If your application is approved then your personal information will be protected. This protection will then remain in place until you advise that it is no longer required.
Removing your home address from the Companies House register
If you have previously provided your home address as your service address then you can apply to have this removed from the Companies House register. It is important to note, however, that if you have already used your personal address as a “registered office address” for the company then this cannot be removed. This applies also if you have already used your personal address as a Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL) address.
To remove your personal address you must complete and submit form SR01 (Apply to remove your home address from the Companies House register). You will be asked to provide the home address that you wish to remove and the new service address. You will also need to provide the details of each document from which you would like your details to be removed, e.g.:
- Form AP01: Appoint a director
- Form AP03: Appoint a secretary
- Form CH01: Change the details of a director
- Form CH03: Change the details of a secretary
- Form IN01: Application to register a company
- Form PSC01: Notice of individual person with significant control (PSC)
You can find all of the documents that contain your personal details by reviewing the filing history on the Companies House website.
An application fee of £32 is payable for each document that you wish to be amended.
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