What Is A Registered Office Address And What Does It Do?

Jun 06, 2017


A registered office is the official address of an incorporated company or association. It’s on the public record, so other entities (persons or organisations) can correspond with it, e.g. HMRC and Companies House.

A company is a legal person, a corporation. For other entities to interact with it officially, it has to be somewhere. That somewhere is the registered office address. It cannot be a website, as no one can send letters to a website, and a website has no tangible presence. It cannot be a P.O. box number, as that is merely a designation within a building. Our government and your clients want to see an address where legal letters can be sent to and where a official can go in person to make representations.

→ Buy a registered office here.

Having a UK registered office for a UK limited company is a legal requirement. The address is publicly available. It must be displayed on company-generated correspondence and media. It cannot be a P.O. Box; it has to be an address a human being can enter i.e. a ‘bricks and mortar’ address. It will be used by Companies House, HMRC and other government bodies as the address where they post statutory letters and legal notices.

Having a real address as the registered office means the company is more substantial; the owner at least has to have access to a physical address. Anyone who has a problem with the company can visit it. Otherwise, criminals would be able to operate scams and dodge the consequences much more easily.  The physical nature of the address, if it’s a bunker, an Edwardian office or a skyscraper, says something about the company. It’s important to investors and purchasers to be confident in whom they are dealing with. Having a tangible address help with this.

The Registered Office can be a different place to your trading address or ‘principal place of business’.  You may have noticed on lots of websites and stationery from big companies the line which begins: “Registered office: 127 Pall Mall, Westminster, London W1”, when you know the company has its factory in Hampshire.

Your trading address is where you physically operate from and can be your home or your shed. If you’re not noisy or messy, you may not even tell your landlord you have a business there. When you submit a VAT registration application, HMRC will ask what your trading address is. This is not your registered office.

A UK company can have a registered office in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and, once registered in one of these jurisdictions, it cannot be transferred i.e. if you register a company in Scotland you can’t then move its registered office to England.

– It protects your residential address from being displayed on the public register.
– Your company’s registered office address will appear on other websites. If it’s a virtual office address, then there are no negative consequences for your person or your home address;
– Having someone else’s address as your registered office prevents unsolicited mail and unwanted visitors arriving at your home address.

Foreign residents have no choice but to buy access to a UK address if they want to have a company registered here; in the digital era it’s one of the only things that defines a company as being British.

British residents can use their home address but their landlord may not allow it. Landlords don’t want legal letters arriving at their premises. They don’t want the local council to treat their residential property as commercial premises either, as this can affect the rates they have to pay.

This is why many small British businessmen, who are just starting out, or who are operating mainly internet-based businesses, get a virtual office address. It’s cheap, it’s flexible and you don’t have the burden of maintaining a lease just to get the occasional important letter.

A service like RegisteredAddress.co.uk is useful:

– For modern start-ups currently operating from one of the director’s homes;
– For website owners who find they need to put an address on their ‘Contact Us’ page, otherwise they look insubstantial to their visitors;
– For foreign businesses want to give the impression they have a foothold in London, without spending £15k a year, when all they need is a place they can get their letters from and meet client’s occasionally.

The good news: UK company shareholders, directors and secretaries  do not have to be UK residents. You can be a shareholder, director or secretary of a UK company if you are based in Poland.  

If you are doing business from overseas, it is important that the providers of your registered office will forward your mail anywhere in the world. Letters from HMRC and Companies House are important, for two main reasons:

1. They contain authentication codes and reference numbers vital to submitting your annual returns;
2. They contain reminders to submit your annual returns.

It’s very useful to have a letter drop into your mailbox which reminds you of your statutory obligations. Deadlines can creep up. If you’re the sort of person that forgets people’s birthdays, how much more damaging is it to get a fine because you forgot to remind your accountant to file your returns!

We recommend getting a company that offers substantial customer support, with personnel that will answer your questions. When you look at virtual office companies, make sure a customer support number is listed on the website. Call it to see what kind of service you may actually receive. Choose a company that fits your needs and that you can trust.

The UK company registration system is much less bureaucratic than other nations; it’s fairly simply to set up and run a UK company. You just need one man, who can be both director and shareholder, and a UK address, where you have the permission of the landlord to receive statutory letters.

You can protect your identity and home address by using an upmarket central London registered office address which includes free national and international mail forwarding. This helps boost your businesses profile and increase confidence in your brand. Privacy and confidentiality can be acquired at an affordable price.

Many people are familiar with different areas of the UK, especially London. If you have a street that is well-known and respected, it will reflect on your company. Your clients will equate that prestigious address with quality service.

→ Buy a registered office here.

Further reading:

General information about registered offices: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Registered_office
UK local regulator: www.gov.uk/limited-company-formation/company-address
Statistics: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house/about/statistics
Search the UK company register: beta.companieshouse.gov.uk
How to change your registered office once you have one: www.gov.uk/government/publications/change-a-registered-office-address-ad01

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