A registered office is the official address of a limited company and having one is a legal requirement for any incorporated business trading in the UK.
The registered address must be a physical location where official paperwork, such as communications from Companies House and HMRC, can be delivered.
Some small company owners use their accountant’s address. Or you may decide to use another intermediary (such as a formations agent) to provide a registered office service – in return for a modest annual charge.
This has the obvious benefits of ensuring any important mail addressed to your company is received directly by people tasked with overseeing your tax and statutory affairs.
The registrar of companies will automatically provide HMRC with the registered office details of all new companies immediately after incorporation.
Where should my registered office address be?
There are a several rules to bear in mind when choosing an address for your new company.
- It must be a physical address somewhere in the UK.
- You are permitted to use a PO Box Number, but you must also provide a full address and postcode.
- There is no legal requirement to work from, or to visit the address. It can simply be used for statutory purposes alone.
- The location of that address must match the registration region of the company. So, you must use an address in England & Wales if your registration was completed in one of those countries. The same applies to companies registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- You can use your home address, or the address of someone who helps your company manage your affairs, such as your accountant. You can change these details at any time, as long as the new address also meets the rules.
- Your company’s registered address is kept on the public record, and anyone can search for this, and other details, via the Companies House website.
- Your company’s statutory records and registers should be available for inspection at this address, however unlikely you are to be asked to produce them. If you are asked to produce your company records, you must reply to the applicant within 5 days. You may decide to use a SAIL address if public inspection is inpracticable or undesired (see below).
Using your personal address – is this an option?
There are benefits to using your home address as your registered office address – such as making sure you can receive any important mail – but it may not necessarily be the best choice.
If you do use your home address, it will appear on the public record. And this information cannot be deleted from the public record, as this extract from the Companies House blog states:
…any previous addresses you’ve used as a registered office will remain on the public register for the lifetime of the company and 20 years after the company has been dissolved.
Another benefit of using a non-residential address is that an ‘office’ type address may provide your clients with a more professional image for your business.
A simple Google search will reveal dozens of companies who will happily provide you with a secure prestigious office address.
You pay an annual fee for the service, and all mail will be forwarded to an address of your choosing. We recommend taking a look at 1st Formations. We’ve worked with them for many years at LCH.
What is a SAIL address (Single Alternative Inspection Location)
If you don’t want anyone to inspect the company records at your registered address, you can provide an alternative address to Companies House – where the company records are kept.
This is known as a SAIL address.
This enables you to keep your home address as the registered address, but your records are kept at another location.
Is a registered address the same as a business address?
A company’s registered address is where official paperwork can be sent. As we mentioned previously, this can be your accountant’s address, or a third party address.
There is no legal requirement for your registered address to be the same place where you carry out your business.
What is the difference between a registered and a service address?
A service address – a change first implemented in 2009 – allows individual company officers (e.g. directors, secretaries, etc.) to provide Companies House with a contact address which differs from their normal residential address.
This is optional, but provides privacy to individuals who don’t want their residential address appearing on the public record.
The service address is a completely separate statutory requirement from the registered office address, but many company directors opt to use the same third party to provide both official addresses for the sake of simplicity.
How do I change my registered address?
The Companies House database holds the registered office address of all companies on the register
If you want to update the address at any time, you (or your accountant) need to submit Form AD01 online, via WebFiling, or you can file a paper version.
Once your update has been processed, you can still use your old address on company websites and stationery for up to 14 days. After that, you will need to update all instances of your registered address.
You can read a short guide on the Companies House blog here, which explains this process in more detail.
Registered office service via 1st Formations
If you’re thinking of setting up a company and would like to use a third party address, rather than your home address, there are many options open to you.
Most company formation providers as well as accountants will happily provide a commercial address for your company to use, for a modest annual fee.
If you set up a company via 1st Formations, you can use their registered address service for just £39 per year. Find out more here.
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