A registered office address is an official correspondence address that every limited company (and LLP) is legally required to provide during the incorporation process and maintain throughout its existence.
The purpose of a registered office is to provide Companies House, HMRC, and other government bodies with an official address where statutory communications and legal notices can be securely delivered. It is also where companies should make their statutory registers available for public inspection unless an alternate location is used for this purpose.
A registered office address must be in the same UK country/jurisdiction where the company is registered (England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland). However, it does not need to be in the same country where the business carries out its main trading activities.
Only full, physical postal addresses can be used as registered offices. Both residential and non-residential addresses are permitted, but most people prefer to use commercial addresses to protect their privacy.
Why do I need a registered office for my limited company?
All limited companies incorporated in the UK need a registered office because:
- it is a legal requirement of the Companies Act 2006
- an official contact address if necessary for the delivery and receipt of official government communications and notices
- maintaining an official address on the public Companies Register enhances openness and corporate transparency in the UK
- it is the location where statutory company registers should be stored and made available for inspection by the public
However, companies do have the option to use a SAIL address as an inspection location, or they can elect to keep the information on some statutory registers at Companies House instead.
Do I need a registered office for a limited liability partnership?
Yes. In order to form a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), you must have a registered office in the UK jurisdiction where the LLP is incorporated – England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.
Can I use my home as a registered office?
You may use your home for this purpose but it is not recommended. Ideally, you should use a non-residential/commercial address because:
- due to the public disclosure of corporate information, the use of a residential address could result in unwanted visitors and unsolicited mail at your home
- a non-residential registered office address in a prestigious location will appeal to a larger consumer base and discerning investors
- your company is more likely to be perceived as an established, credible, and trustworthy business if you have a professional registered office address
- it draws a clear line between work life and home life
- a prominent city address enables new and small firms to expand their geographical reach – this is particularly beneficial for those based in small towns or remote areas
What is the difference between a registered office and a service address?
A registered office is the official address of a limited company or LLP. Correspondence and legal notices from UK government agencies are delivered there.
A service address is the official contact address for individual directors, LLP members, company secretaries, subscribers, and People with Significant Control (PSC). Personal statutory mail from government agencies, such as Companies House and HMRC, is delivered to the individual’s service address.
Both are required under UK company law and added to the public Companies Register. Unlike a registered office, a service address can be anywhere in the world, but you can use the same postal address as your registered office and service address if you wish.
What is the difference between a registered office and a business address?
As the official address of your company, only statutory mail from government agencies is delivered to the registered office. A business address, on the other hand, is used as a contact point for all other kinds of correspondence from clients/customers, suppliers, utility providers, and other third parties.
Companies that operate in different areas of the UK and/or overseas may have multiple business addresses to provide a point of contact in each location. This is an effective way to establish a local presence in each place.
There is no legal requirement to have a business address that matches your registered office, but you can certainly use the same address for both purposes, as long as it meets the required criteria of a registered office.
Whilst you cannot use a PO Box Number as your registered office, you can use a PO Box address if you provide Companies House with the full, physical postal address.
Can I use a council house as a registered office?
Companies House will accept any residential or non-residential address as a registered office, as long as the full postal address is provided and it is situated in the same UK jurisdiction where the company is incorporated.
If you rent your home from a private landlord or local authority, you will need to get their permission before you use your home as a registered office because the address will become a matter of public record.
This should not pose any problems unless the activities you’re carrying out at the property are likely to cause a nuisance to neighbours, be offensive to the eye or potentially hazardous to the property, or result in people coming and going from the property at all hours of the day/night.
Such business use is not considered ‘reasonable’ and would be refused by your landlord or local authority. Furthermore, you will probably not be allowed to put up advertisements at the property.
Applying for permission
To apply to your local council, you will have to send a written request to the head of the relevant housing authority and provide full details of (where applicable):
- planned business use
- any planned changes or alterations to the property
- the erection of sheds or outbuildings
- any commercial vehicles that you will use
- and the hours and level of noise resulting from business use
You should not start running a business from your council property until you have received written permission from the head of your housing service and, if applicable, the head of the planning department.
You may also have to pay business rates if you use any part of the property exclusively for business use, or if you have modified a section of the property for this reason. However, each case is considered on an individual basis and will depend on the regulations of your local authority or housing association.
What happens if your request is denied?
If you are not permitted to use your home as a registered office, you can purchase one from an online company formation agent like 1st Formations. Many people find this option more favourable because it protects their privacy.
Can I move my company’s registered office to a different country?
Although Companies House is the Registrar of Companies for the whole of the UK, they do operate in three separate jurisdictions – England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – each of which is governed by a different judicial system.
If a company is involved in any legal proceedings, the case will be presided over by the Court of the governing jurisdiction in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. For this reason, a registered office can only be located in the country in which you incorporate your company.
You can move a registered office in England to an address in Wales, and vice versa, but this is the only exception to the rule because these two countries fall under a single jurisdiction (unless you have registered your company in “England only” or “Wales only”, in which case the members (shareholders/guarantors/LLP members) of the company will need to approve the relocation to another country.
In all other cases, you can certainly change your registered office but you cannot move it to another country after company formation.
Companies and partnerships may, however, trade in all three jurisdictions. A good idea would be to set up a business address in another country (or countries) to expand the geographical reach of your trading activities.
Can I change my registered office address?
Yes, you can change it at any time and as often as you like, as long as it stays in the same UK country. You must notify Companies House as soon as possible if you change your registered office.
The address details will be updated on the public register within approximately 24 hours. You must ensure all statutory records are moved to the new registered office unless a SAIL address is used instead.
How to change a registered office
To change a registered office, the company directors need to approve the change. Companies House Form AD01 (for companies) or Form LLAD01 (for LLPs) must then be completed and delivered to the Registrar via WebFiling or 1st Formations’ free Online Company Manager.
Companies House will verify the new address on the Post Office database, so you must provide the full address and include the correct postcode. If your new registered office address is suitable, the change will be approved. The public register will be updated within approximately 24 hours.
Your new address will not take effect until Companies House enters it into its database. When this happens, you will need to update your stationery and move your statutory records (if applicable).
Where to display registered office details
You will need to display the registered office of your company on all official stationery, including emails, brochures, and websites.
In addition to stationery, you must clearly and continuously display your company’s full name on a sign at your registered office, unless it’s primarily used as a residential address or your company has been dormant since incorporation.
Statutory records you must keep at a registered office address
Private limited companies must keep some or all of their statutory records at their registered office unless they are stored at a SAIL address or at Companies House.
Statutory records include, where applicable:
- Register of members
- Register of company directors
- Register of company secretaries
- Register of People with Significant Control
- Directors’ service contracts
- Directors’ indemnities – security against liability claims or legal costs
- Copies of resolutions
- Minutes of meetings
- Contracts relating to purchase of own shares
- Documents relating to redemption or purchase of own shares out of capital by private company
- Register of debenture holders
- Instruments creating charges and register of charges
These records may be kept in hard-copy format in a bound or loose-leaf book, or they can be kept in digital format. Any additional registers your company maintains (for example, the register of allotments) should also be kept here.
1st Formations London Registered Office Service
1st Formations offers a prestigious London Registered Office Address in the heart of Covent Garden, which is suitable for any company or LLP registered in England and Wales. This service is available for £39.00 per year. All official government mail will be scanned and emailed to you within 1 working day of receipt, free of charge.
A number of our company formation packages include this service as standard, but it is also possible to purchase our Registered Office Service separately for a new or existing company in England and Wales.
Our central London address is also available as a Service Address for £26.00 per year and as a Business Address Service for £96.00 per year, both of which are suitable for companies registered in all UK jurisdictions.