You may be thinking about registered office addresses because you are incorporating a new company, or because you are planning to change your company’s current address. This article covers some of the commonly asked questions relating to registered office addresses for companies registered in England and Wales.
Does my company need a registered office?
Yes. All private limited companies must have a registered office address. You will not be able to incorporate a new private limited company without giving a registered office address.
What is the registered office address used for?
This is the address Companies House will use to contact the company. If you register a new company, Companies House will send important information and guidance to this address shortly after incorporation. The company’s customers, suppliers and creditors may also use it, particularly if the company does not have a different correspondence address listed on its website. Additionally, contractual notices (such as notice to terminate an agreement) will often be sent to the company’s registered office.
If the company is subject to legal proceedings (for example, because somebody has issued a claim against it) then important court documents may be sent to the company’s registered office address. If these documents are missed, for example because the company’s registered office has not been updated following a change in premises, then there could be serious legal implications for the company.
The company’s registered office is also where you must store the company’s statutory registers unless you have notified Companies House by filing a Single Alternative Inspection Location Form (Form AD02). The company can also opt to keep certain registers on the public database. This means it does not need to provide an inspection location for those publicly-available registers.
At the time of writing, a private company’s statutory registers include the following records:
- A register of directors and any secretaries
- A register of directors’ residential addresses
- Copies of all directors’ service contracts
- A register of members
- A register of charges created before 6 April 2013
- A register of debenture holders
- Records of resolutions and shareholder meetings
- A register of persons with significant control
The following Companies House Forms are used to opt-in to specific registers being hosted on the public database:
- Form EH01 (election for register of directors)
- Form EH02 (election for register of directors’ residential addresses)
- Form EH03 (election for register of secretaries)
- Form EH04 (election for register of people with significant control)
- Form EH05 (election for register of members)
Both AD01 and the EH Forms can also be submitted using WebFiling. Visit the Companies House website to read their Guidance on Signing Up for WebFiling.
How can I change my registered office address?
You must file a Form AD01 with Companies House to update your company’s registered office address. Form AD01 can be submitted online if the company is registered for WebFiling.
A change in registered address should be approved at a board meeting or by passing a directors’ resolution in accordance with the company’s articles of association.
The company doesn’t have its own premises, do I need to use my home address?
Not necessarily. Some people are happy to list their residential address as their company’s registered office although there are good reasons why you may not be comfortable doing so.
You should remember that the company’s registered office is a matter of public record and so anybody can see it. Even if you subsequently change the registered office, the old address will still be shown on the company’s filing history and in most circumstances cannot be removed.
You may notice an increase in junk mail to your home address if you use it as your company’s registered office. You will need to remember to update your company’s registered office address if you move house. Even after updating the address, your old address may continue to receive junk mail intended for the company.
You may also want to consider whether using your home address gives a professional impression of your business. This is a common reason for companies opting to use a business address service, as explained in the next section.
What alternatives do I have if I don’t want to use my home address?
You have a number of options:
- Business address service providers. This is where you pay to use the provider’s address (often located in a block of offices) as your company’s registered office. Hundreds of companies might share the same address.
It is increasingly common for providers to scan and email the company’s post to you. Other providers may require you to collect the post in person, or pay a surcharge for it to be forwarded to you. This may mean that you are paying for the provider to process junk mail addressed to the company. If you routinely receive lengthy documents, parcels, or cheques then you will need to make arrangements to collect these in person or have them forwarded on to you. There will be an inevitable delay in you receiving the company’s post, compared with if the registered office were your home address.
Prices vary by provider and some service providers offer additional benefits, such as being able to hire out meeting rooms. Addresses in more popular locations (such as London) tend to be more expensive.
If you stop using the service you may have to pay additional charges if the provider continues to receive post for the company. Some providers simply bin any post they receive after the contract has ended. This means you may miss important correspondence (such as legal letters).
Many service providers won’t store the company’s statutory registers at the registered office address. This means you will need to choose an alternate (publicly listed) location where they can be stored and inspected unless the company has opted for those registers to be added to the public database. If you don’t want to use your home address then you may need to pay somebody else for this service (such as your accountant or solicitor). A Single Alternative Inspection Location Form (Form AD02) should be filed with Companies House to record the fact that the company’s registers are stored at a different location. Forms EH01 through EH05 can be filed to opt into the company publishing certain registers on the public database.
If your service provider does offer to store your statutory registers then you will still be responsible for keeping them up to date. This may be impractical if your company is rapidly expanding and so the registers need to be updated frequently.
- PO Box. You can use a PO Box address as your company’s registered office provided you include a physical address and postcode.
At the time of writing, Royal Mail states it will not open your company’s post for you but other providers may offer this service for convenience. PO Box services are usually available on a collection or onwards-delivery basis although some providers will scan and email post to you.
Royal Mail currently charges a fixed fee for the service whereas other providers may charge for each letter received/processed. If you are paying on a per-letter basis then you will often be paying for the provider to process junk mail for you.
If you use a PO Box then you will usually need to specify another location (which will be stated on the public register) where the company’s statutory registers can be inspected. If you don’t want to use your home address then you may need to pay somebody else for this service (such as your accountant or solicitor). Form AD02 should be filed with Companies House to record the alternative inspection location.
- Registered office service provided by your accountants. Your accountants may offer a registered office service. Terms and cost of that service will depend on the firm. Many accountants will also hold onto the company’s statutory registers. Some accountants will update your statutory registers for you, although there may be an additional cost for doing so.
- Registered office service provided by your solicitors. Many law firms, including Paris Smith, offer registered office services.
Paris Smith’s registered office service has the following benefits:
- Fixed pricing. So you know exactly how much the service will cost.
- Choice of locations. You can choose between Paris Smith’s Southampton or Winchester office addresses as your company’s registered office.
- Junk mail screening. We screen your post for obvious junk mail so that you only receive correspondence which is important to your business. Your post is covered by strict rules on client confidentiality, unlike when using a traditional business address service provider.
- Post forwarding by email. We email your post to you to ensure you receive urgent correspondence without delay. We keep a secure digital record of all forwarded correspondence and can provide you with copies if you need them. Cheques and important original documents are forwarded to you by registered post to ensure they quickly reach their destination.
- Storage of the company’s statutory registers at no additional cost. We will store your statutory registers free of charge. If you choose to keep the company’s records at another location, we can file the Companies House AD02 Form for you.
- Immediate access to trusted legal advice. If you need advice then we can quickly put you in touch with an expert within our firm.
- Simple transition to our company secretarial service. If you want us to handle your company filings and keep your company registers up to date then it’s easy to make the change. We offer a discounted rate for clients who use both our registered office and company secretarial service. If we’re already holding your statutory registers then the upgrade in service is seamless.
- Trustworthiness. Paris Smith has over 200 years’ experience providing trusted legal services. Unlike some business address service providers, you don’t need to worry about us disappearing overnight.
If I want to use Paris Smith’s registered office service, who can I speak to?
Please contact me in the first instance.