With the new legislation effective from October 2009 many new and existing entrepreneurs might be confused as to how many and what kind of addresses their company should maintain. This article explains what addresses a company may use and which ones are legally required.address change business
Registered office address
Every company is required by law to have an address where official correspondence, such as documents from a court, letters from HM Revenue & Customs or from Companies House, can be served. This is a registered office address which must be provided when registering a limited company or an LLP in the UK.
The registered office must be a valid address and recognised by the Post Office. It is not permitted to use a PO Box as the registered office address. All changes to the address must be reported at Companies House immediately.
The registered office address is available for the general public to view on the Companies House website. Companies must also state their registered address on their stationary, invoices, websites and financial documents. The company’s name must also be displayed at its registered office.
For reputational purposes, efficiency in dealing with official correspondence and to protect the privacy of business owners trading from home, companies often use a third party address as their registered office address.
Business address (trading address)
This is the address where the company’s business operations are carried out and where the company’s assets, such as premises and machinery, are located. The business address may or may not be the same as the registered office address and therefore may not be in the public domain.
Many company directors trading from home choose a third party address for their business use and mail forwarding in order to protect their privacy or to add prestige to their business.
Directors’ usual residential address
This is the director’s home address and must be provided when registering the company. For companies incorporated after 1 October 2009 this address is not shown on the public record.
Directors’ service address
From 1 October 2009 new rules regarding directors’ addresses came into effect. Directors of companies incorporated after this date are no longer required to disclose their residential address to the public. They can use a service address instead.
The service address must be where documents can be delivered and an acknowledgement or receipt can be provided if required, so it cannot be a PO Box or a DX number. A directors’ service address may be the same as the company’s registered office address, but equally, he or she may choose an altogether different address for this purpose.
The reasons for this change in the law are twofold: firstly to protect against identity theft and secondly in response to a criticism that the current system does not adequately protect directors from harassment.
Directors who are on the register before 1 October 2009 will automatically have their residential address shown as their service address, unless the appropriate form is filed with Companies House notifying a different directors’ service address. However, a directors’ residential address shown on historical documents will remain available to the public. If they believe that having their home addresses publicly available will lead to a ‘serious risk’ to themselves or their families, they can apply to have this information made private.
The only time when the residential address can be disclosed after 1 October 2009 is if certain public bodies such as the police, HMRC or credit reference agencies demand it. Also, if correspondence remains unanswered for a specified time, and it becomes apparent that the service address is not a suitable place to serve documents, the enquirer can ask the Registrar of Companies for the residential address to be put on the public register.
Secretary’s service address
The appointment of a company secretary is optional for private companies. However, if appointed, the secretary’s service address (but no longer their residential address) must be provided when registering the appointment. Public companies are required to appoint at least one company secretary.
Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL) address
The new Companies Act introduced a new requirement for UK businesses effective from 1 October 2009 that a company’s statutory books (including its register of directors and members) must be kept together and must be made available for inspection, either at its registered office or at a Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL) address.
Notifications made to Companies house before 1 October 2009 that a company’s registers are held at a location other than its registered office are no longer valid and therefore directors or their company secretaries should file a new SAIL address at Companies House. Only one SAIL address is permitted.