Jun 13, 2017
Since 1st October 2009 a UK company director can have two addresses in the Companies House database:
(a) The Service or Correspondence address;
(b) Their residential address.
The Director's Service Address serves as your official, public correspondence address.
Each director needs to have one. Typically the only bodies to write to a director of a small company, using the service address, are HMRC or Companies House, if they cannot get satisfaction from writing to the Company at its Registered Office. A director's personal statutory mail from government agencies is delivered there. The Director's Service Address can be located anywhere in the world.
The residential address listing is available solely to select government bodies, like the police, HMRC, FSA and also credit referencing agencies. Credit-referencing agencies need to see the director's home address, as it is one of bases for judging the credit-worthiness of the company they run. Only the Service Address is shown on the public record.
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The director's service address and the residential address can be the same. If you want to use your home address, and your landlord doesn't object, no one can stop you.
A larger company traditionally would have the service address and the registered office as their own business premises. Nowadays any small businessman can buy the right to use someone else's address as their service address. This helps maintain some privacy for the director and cuts down on junk mail and nuisance callers.
It is possible for the service address not to be disclosed to credit-referencing agencies. This is in instances where the director, or a person that lives with him or her, has a well-founded fear of attack as a result of the activities of at least once of the companies of which he is a director e.g. from malicious social activists. A confidentiality order using Companies House application form SR04 may be may be applied for, with a written statement of the grounds for the application, along with a cheque for £100.
Companies House will display the address information on their public register, which is nowadays viewable online. It is very important to get the details of your initial company formation correct, as that information will be on the register forever and cannot be altered, except by a court order. Company details can of course be changed later, but the original submission is 'recorded in stone'.
A current service address must be provided to Companies House by the following:
- Limited company directors;
- Company secretaries;
- The original shareholders or guarantors ( ‘subscribers') of a company;
- Guarantors with at least 25% voting rights;
- Shareholders who hold at least 25% of the company’s shares.
- Any other person or legal entity with significant control over a company (called People with Significant Control, or PSCs).
In this article, we will concern ourselves only with limited company (LTD) directors.
A registered office address is not the same thing, in law, as a service address. A registered office address is the public mailing address of the company, as an entity, and it has to be in the UK.
One benefit of using a virtual office provider is that their address looks more professional than someone's home address, especially if its in an upmarket area of a major city. The virtual office provider will forward your letters to where you live, so you can deal with them at your leisure; you don't need to trek into town to get your mail.
A virtual office mailing address is useful for the following reasons:
- Make sure you still get your business mail, uninterrupted, even if you move home address;
- Foreign residents can have a UK mailing address;
- Travellers can change their residence without updating their correspondence address;
- Keep the senders of your letters private (their mail will be put in another envelope);
- Protect your home address from public scrutiny;
- Protect yourself and your family from unwanted attention;
- Protect workers in sensitive occupations;
- Prevent unsolicited commercial mail.
Readers may not be aware that Companies House may publish:
- Your name;
- Your date of of birth;
- Your service address;
- Your occupation;
- Your nationality.
The only stipulation with being for a director's correspondence address is that it can receive statutory mail and that it can be visited by a human caller. It has to be a real ‘bricks and mortar’ address. It cannot be a P.O. box as these are intangible; they are just a designation in a building and can have no physical reality at all; there may not even be an actual 'box'!
With a virtual office address, your address is real but you are not physically present there. Your statutory mail will be delivered there and then forwarded to you at an alternative address, such as your home, office or your accountant's address. The service address can be anywhere in the world, unlike the registered office, but it must be a proper, full postal address.
You could try to be clever and give a fake or partly-fake address but then you may not get important alerts from HMRC and Companies House. These bodies will write to the directors of the company if they don't get satisfaction from writing to the company at its registered office. These would be notifications that the company's annual returns were late and that fines were mounting up! If returns are not submitted after a certain period the the company will be struck off.
Your service address can be changed at any time, but you need to inform Companies House as soon as possible, using form CH01, which you can download, print out and then post to Companies House. The quicker method is to get log-in access to your company's Companies House listing. You can do this if you have the authentication code that in normally created when your company is formed by a professional formation agent.
It can be very useful in the digital era to have paper reminders of submissions you need to do, of your company's authentication code and UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) numbers. Email servers can crash, email addresses become inaccessible and computers can have their data wiped. A letter sits there in your in-tray until you do something about it!
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