Since new legislation was introduced in October 2009, Companies House requires directors of UK registered companies to provide two addresses: a service address, and their usual residential address. Only the service address appears on the public record. For many directors, the residential and service address may be the same. Or, if the company has an office, retail outlet or studio, for example, this is often used as the service address and is the one to which mail, including authorised notices from Companies House and HMRC, is sent.
For privacy reasons, company officers may opt to use a service address on the public record, but what does this mean, and how does it work in practice? To answer these and other frequently asked questions, we’ve compiled the following guide.
What is a service address?
A service address can be any physical address in the UK, or abroad. Directors aren’t required to live at this address or operate on a daily basis from the service address; they are only required to be able to receive official mail here. Some company directors choose to use the services of a company set-up agent to receive their official mail and send it on to them at an alternative address to protect their privacy. They would charge a fee for this service.
Why not just use my residential address?
If you decide to use your residential address as your service address, this is the one that will appear on the public record. For your personal security, such as preventing unwelcome visitors appearing on your doorstep, avoid receiving unsolicited or nuisance mail, or for any other reason, you may prefer to keep your residential address out of the public domain. Your residential address will still be made available to some public authorities, including credit reference agencies (see below), but only the service address is made public.
Companies Houses issues the following advice to individuals on protecting their personal information: “Should you choose to register your residential address as your service address, registered office or subscriber address then it will always appear as a part of the public record even if you change it at a later date, so please think carefully about this before you register your company.”
Can I use the registered office address of my company as the service address?
Yes, provided it meets the legal requirements of a registered office as set out by Companies House.
Can I use a P.O. Box as a service address?
Yes, if you provide Companies House with the full postal address and postcode. You can’t use a P.O. number only as a service address.
What sort of mail is sent to my service address?
All statutory mail and other legal notices from Companies House and HMRC that are addressed to the company director will be sent to the service address. As stated above, this can be collected from there by the director or authorised company official, or forwarded on by an approved agent.
Can my service address be anywhere in the world?
Yes, provided you give Companies House the full postal address, the service address can be situated on the other side of the world.
Do shareholders need to provide a service address?
The original shareholders do need to provide Companies House with their contact address but not a service address. Shareholders who join after the company is incorporated don’t need to provide a contact address.
Does a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) require a service address?
LLPs are required to provide Companies House with a contact address, but do not need a service address.
Does a company secretary need a service address?
If you have a company secretary, he or she only needs to provide a contact address to Companies House.
Disclosure of address to credit reference agencies
As a director or officer of the company, you can apply to Companies House to prevent your residential address being disclosed to credit reference agencies if certain conditions prevail. For example, if you believe this could pose you a personal risk or you or a partner will be subjected to intimidation or violence by making your address known. To apply for such a restriction, you need to complete form SR04 (available from Companies House) pay the fee, and attach a written statement stating your reasons for this request.