When you set up a limited company, you’ll be asked to provide three different types of address: your registered office, your business address, and your service address. These are all a requirement of the Companies Act (2006).
It’s important to understand the differences between these addresses, who will be receiving the mail that’s sent to them, and the various legal requirements of setting up your company’s registered office. We’ll be talking you through all these steps in this article.
What is a registered office address?
A registered office address is the main ‘official’ address for the company where all official or legal correspondence for a limited company should be sent. This may include letters from HMRC, Companies House, the courts, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and Government Gateway. It’s been a legal requirement since 2006 for companies to have a registered office address.
Your registered office address must be a real address in the UK and you should be aware that it will be made publicly available through the Companies House website. Your company’s registered office is legally required to appear on all client correspondence and branded stationery, such as your business cards.
This is an important fact to keep in mind when it comes to deciding on which address you’d like to use as your registered office – you don’t want to publish your home address if you don’t have to, nor do you want to come across as unprofessional if it’s standard practice in your line of work for a company to be based from an official trading location.
If you work from business premises, you have to ensure that your registered company name is shown at that address. If your registered office is your home, you don’t have to meet this requirement.
So, how do you decide which address you should use as your registered office? Well, to properly make that decision, we need to first look at the other ‘official’ addresses your limited company is required to have.
What is a director service address?
A director service address must be provided by each appointed individual in your company. These could include your directors, shareholders, company secretaries, LLP members, and People with Significant Control (PSCs). It’s the second ‘official’ address you must give to Companies House when forming your company. This is the address (or addresses) where all the ‘company officers’ can be contacted (and it can be the same as the registered office address if you wish).
Companies House insists on having a service address for each appointed individual so they can direct official personal mail to them, usually relating to their role within the company. This correspondence will usually be from HMRC or Companies House themselves.
Unlike a registered office, a service address does not have to be based in the same country as the limited company or LLP the individual is appointed to. Much like a registered address, service addresses are also available on the public record, alongside the other publicly available information about your company, but the address does not need to appear on your company’s website or on your business cards.
What is a ‘usual residential address’?
The third type of address you have to give to Companies House is the usual residential address for all company officers. This address is not shown on the public record and is only made available to credit reference agencies and specified public authorities as detailed in the 2009 Companies (Disclosure of Address) Regulations.
Should you choose to use your residential address as your service address or registered office, then it will always appear as a part of the public record, even if you change it at a later date, so please think carefully about this before you register your company. Company formation agents, solicitors and accountants often offer an address hosting service for a fee (it’s included as part of our Crunch Premium package).
What is a business address?
If the world was a simple place, a business address would be exactly what it sounds like: the address of your office or trading location. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that clear cut.
A business address is where all mail from clients, suppliers, banks, and other businesses will be sent. A company could have multiple business addresses if they have branches in different parts of the country or across the world, but it’s unlikely a small business will have any more than one.
Every company will have different requirements and preferences when it comes to deciding on their business address. For the sake of simplicity, though, we’d recommend either making it your home address or the address of your office or trading location, depending on which of these is best for your business. Unlike the service address, however, it’s important that your business address is displayed on your website and on your business paraphernalia so potential customers, for example, are able to reach you.
What are the legal requirements of a registered office?
Now we’ve established all the addresses you could have as a company, let’s just recap the legal requirements for your registered office.
A registered office must be a real address, and it must be based in the same country the company is registered. That means a company registered in England must have a registered office based in England, rather than another member of the UK like Scotland.
It is also legally required for a registered office to display their company name outside their place of business, or, if your business is based in a building with multiple companies operating within it, outside the entrance to the block. The only exception is if you choose your home address. As we mentioned earlier, you must also display your registered office address on your website and your various correspondence, such as your business cards, invoices, email signatures etc.
Which address can I use as my registered office?
Given the importance of your registered office address, choosing the right location to have as your registered office is a particularly important decision. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available to you - it’s just a matter of selecting the address that works best for you and your business, and meets the legal requirements set out above. Companies House are happy for you to use any of the following as your registered office:
- Your home address
- Your accountant’s address
- Your solicitor’s address
- Non-residential/commercial premises from where your business operates
- A registered office service, perhaps provided by a company formation agent, secretarial firm, or business centre
- Any residential or non-residential address that you’ve been given permission to use.
You may also use a PO box as your registered office, but:
- You must include the full address of the building in which the PO Box is located, including the postcode
- The address must be able to be verified by the Royal Mail’s Postcode and Address finder
- Mail must be able to be physically presented to someone who can accept the mail on behalf of the business.
You can change your registered office address in the future, but you’ll need permission from Companies House. Assuming they sign-off on your change, they’ll pass on the details to HMRC. You’ll then need to update every instance of your old registered office address, which is going to include your website, business cards etc. that we mentioned earlier.
How Crunch can help
If you're a Crunch client but you're not on our Crunch Premium package, you can take advantage of an exclusive discount at our partners over at Hoxton Mix, who can set an up an address in Shoreditch, London, that can be used as your publicly available address. As above, any mail sent there by Companies House or HMRC will be forwarded to you.
Speak to one of our friendly advisors about how our great range of accountancy software, unlimited support, and expert advice packages could help your business.