New Rules for Registered Office Addresses

In October 2023, the UK government’s landmark Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act came into force, which brought with it several new rules to enhance corporate transparency and reduce economic crime. The changes are also intended to strengthen corporate accountability and promote more transparent business practices.

The first batch of changes from the new legislation, which came into effect on 4th March 2024, include stricter regulations for registered office addresses, new requirements for company email addresses, and enhanced lawful purpose statements. In this article, we will look more closely at the new rules for registered office addresses, the impact this will have on companies registered in the UK, and the benefits of using third-party address service providers.

Why has the government changed the law for registered company office addresses?

The new requirements for registered office addresses are part of a series of changes being made by the government to boost corporate transparency and mitigate economic crime. As the government factsheet on the new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 explains, the changes will “reform the role of Companies House and improve transparency over UK companies and other legal entities in order to strengthen our business environment, support our national security and combat economic crime, whilst delivering a more reliable companies register to underpin business activity”. 

What is a ‘registered office address’ in the UK?

All companies in the UK are legally required to provide a registered office address to Companies House. A registered office address is where all written communication for a company must be sent. Crucially, it is possible to use a third-party registered office service agent to receive and handle your mail, such as Uniwide Formations. 

What are the new requirements for registered office addresses in the UK?

As of 4th March 2024, all companies registered with Companies House are legally required to maintain an ‘appropriate address’ for their registered office. This change is significant because it will no longer be possible to use a PO box or virtual address as an official company address. 

What is an ‘appropriate’ registered office address?

An appropriate address is one where:

  • Any documents delivered there will reach a company representative, and
  • Document delivery can be recorded through an acknowledgement of receipt. 

Document delivery

The registered office must be a physical location where any documents sent to the company will reach a representative to deal with the correspondence appropriately. This means that any items delivered by post or courier should be given to someone with the authority to act on behalf of the company, ensuring prompt and effective communication. 

These new changes now mean that companies registered in the UK will no longer be able to use a PO Box address as a registered office address. As mentioned above, this does not mean that you have to use your own company address. Third-party agent addresses can still be used as long as they meet the requirements for an appropriate registered office address. It should be noted that PO boxes cannot be used even if they are paired with a full postal address, however.

Acknowledgement of receipt

Under the new rules, the delivery of documents received at the registered address should be recordable. In other words, it must be possible for a person at the address to formally acknowledge receipt of the documents. This ensures there is a traceable record confirming that statutory documents and other important correspondence have been delivered to the company.

Other registered office address considerations

The recent changes to the registered address rules also mean that companies must ensure that the address used is in the same jurisdiction as where the company was (or is being) incorporated. For example, if your company is registered in Scotland, the registered office address must also be in Scotland.

It is also essential to make sure that the company has permission to use the registered office address. This means that if you are using a third-party registered address service or a shared office space, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary permission, and you must be able to provide the necessary proof that this is the case (e.g. a letter of authorisation from the building owner or third party agent). 

Under the new rules, Companies House also have increased powers to investigate suspicious addresses and take corrective measures where necessary. As such, it is imperative that you use a legitimate physical address that you have permission to use.  

Consequences of Inappropriate Addresses

If Companies House finds a non-compliant registered office address, it may request proof that it is an appropriate address (this must be provided within 14 days) or change it to one of its default addresses. The default addresses used are as follows:

Companies House Default Address
PO Box 4385
Companies House
Crown Way
Cardiff
CF14 3UZ
Companies House Default Address
PO Box 24238
Edinburgh
EH7 9HR
Companies House Default Address
Companies House
2nd Floor
The Linenhall
32-38 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BG

If Companies House change the non-compliant address to a default address, the company will then be given 28 days to provide an appropriate address along with the necessary supporting documentation. If they do not satisfy this requirement, the company may be struck off the register.

It is essential to ensure that your registered office address complies with the new regulations. We recommend carrying out regular checks on the accessibility of your registered office address. Also, keep your authorisation to use the address at hand in case it is requested by Companies House. Remember, failure to comply with the new company transparency rules may result in your company being struck off the register of companies at Companies House. 

How to change your company’s registered office address

If you have a company that is registered with a PO Box or another inappropriate address, it should have been changed by the deadline of 4th March 2024. If you have not already done so, we would recommend doing so immediately to avoid receiving a letter from Companies House. 

To change your registered office address to an appropriate address, we recommend taking the following steps:

  1. Resolution or approval: Check your company’s articles of association for any clauses that explain how such changes should be handled. Your company may then need to pass a board resolution of the directors to authorise the change of address, or you may need to request approval from your shareholders. 
  2. Submit the application to Companies House: Once you have the necessary approval to proceed with the address changes, you can then submit the change request by completing and submitting form AD01 or form LLAD01 (for LLPs) online or by post within 14 days. To make the change online, you will need to sign into the Companies House WebFiling Service

Remember, if you are a Uniwide customer, you can submit your change of registered office address free of charge via our Online Customer Portal.

Why use Uniwide’s registered office service?

Using a registered office address service, such as the one offered by Uniwide Formation, provides numerous benefits that can enhance your company’s credibility, privacy, and legal compliance. Our prestigious address in a prime location in London projects a professional image, giving your business an edge in terms of credibility. This reassures potential clients, partners, and investors that your company is established and trustworthy. Another reason to use our service is the additional personal privacy protection that it offers.

Directors often prefer to keep their home addresses private. By using our director service address service, personal addresses are shielded from public records, helping to maintain the privacy of directors and key stakeholders.

Then, there is the matter of continued regulatory compliance. Using a registered office service such as that provided by Uniwide Formations will make sure that any important documents sent to you are received promptly and securely. We will scan, forward, or store documents electronically, giving you easy and quick access to your company communications.

Ultimately, using our registered address service will provide you with peace of mind. It will ensure your ongoing compliance with the new Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 requirements, helping you and your company avoid penalties or potential strike-offs due to inappropriate addresses. It also means that your company directors can focus on growing the business rather than worrying about missing statutory mail or maintaining administrative records. 

Final words

The changes introduced by the new  Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, particularly around registered office addresses, will help overall corporate accountability and transparency in the UK. By robustly enforcing the new measures, Companies House will ensure that only companies with proper intentions and legal operations remain active on the register.

Thankfully, for most companies, meeting the new requirements should be simple and straightforward, especially if using a specialist registered address service in central London, such as that provided by Uniwide Formations. If you have questions about the changes to the registered office address rules, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team. 

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