Companies House changes from 4 March 2024

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4 March 2024 sees the implementation of the first set of changes to company secretarial work introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (‘ECCTA’). Most notably, this includes the launch of the requirement for companies to provide a registered email address.

In this article we share details of those changes, and some planning points to help accountants and others to prepare. In Inform Direct, we’ve been making updates to support all the new requirements. So, as an Inform Direct user, you can be confident the records you keep and filings you make will be compliant.

Companies House has been busily preparing its own systems and processes to be ready for the implementation date of 4 March. Given that the changes affect a number of areas, it is possible that despite their best efforts they will experience some issues in the first few days from 4 March.

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Planning point: if you have critical Companies House submissions to make on or around 4 March, you might consider filing early. In that way, you can sidestep any issues with availability of Companies House systems.

New incorporations

For new formations from 4 March 2024, you’ll need to provide a registered email address for the company or LLP.

Planning point: When discussing a forthcoming company formation with a client, if there’s a chance it will be submitted on or after 4 March, you’ll need to agree a registered email address to use. Our dedicated article explains how accountants might approach the selection of a suitable email address.

In Inform Direct, you’ll be prompted to provide an email address as part of the formation process.

In new incorporations from 4 March 2024, you also need to:

  • Confirm that both the registered office address and registered email address are ‘appropriate’ addresses. This means that mail sent to the address should normally be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company
  • Confirm that the company will be used for lawful purposes (this statement is not required for LLPs)

In Inform Direct, you’ll simply need to tick a box to confirm these statements and the required confirmation will be automatically included in the formation submission sent to Companies House.

We believe, but have not had confirmed by Companies House, that formation requests submitted before 4 March 2024 – even if they have not yet been processed by the Registrar – will be processed on the former basis, and therefore not need the registered email address or new statements to be supplied.

Planning point: if you have urgent formations to process, we would suggest that you submit these on 29 February 2024 or before. While it’s not guaranteed, this should allow time for them to be processed at Companies House ahead of 4 March.

There will be a specific restriction on using a PO Box address as a registered office address. We understand that, from 4 March, any application to form a company or LLP with a PO Box address as the registered office address will be rejected.

Additionally, from 4 March, Companies House will be undertaking further checks on proposed new company names. A formation request will be rejected if the proposed name:

  • indicates that the company or LLP will be used for criminal purposes;
  • indicates that the company or LLP has links to foreign governments or international organisations; or
  • includes computer code.

Confirmation statements

From 5 March – note this is the day after the implementation date – there are changes to confirmation statements submitted for existing companies.

Firstly, all confirmation statements with a made up to date on or after 5 March must include confirmation that the intended future activities of the company or LLP are lawful.

The new declaration will be included as part of confirmation statements you submit in Inform Direct.

The first confirmation statement submitted for a company or LLP incorporated before 4 March 2024 with a made up date on or after 5 March must include a registered email address.

Planning point: Over the course of a year, all existing companies will be required to submit a registered email address as part of their next confirmation statement. Our article explaining the registered email address suggests some preparation for accountants, including the decision on whether to use your own email address or one supplied by your client.

You can add the chosen registered email address to the company in Inform Direct, so it’s ready to be submitted in the confirmation statement. If you have lots of companies and want to add the registered email address in bulk, contact the Inform Direct team and we will be pleased to help!

Confirmation statements with a made up date of 4 March 2024 or earlier, even if they are submitted on or after 5 March, are unaffected by these changes.

Inform Direct will automatically identify, based on the date the confirmation statement is made up to, whether the registered email address needs to be included. If you have not already entered it and a registered email address is required, you’ll be prompted to add it to submit the confirmation statement.

Change registered office address

From 4 March, when you change a registered office address you’ll need to confirm that the new address is an ‘appropriate’ address.

In Inform Direct, the required statement will be submitted for you as part of the submission to Companies House to update the registered office address.  

In the same way as for new formations, Companies House plan to reject any submission that purports to change the registered office address to a PO Box address.

Planning point: In the near future, we expect that Companies House will look to challenge existing companies with a PO Box address as their registered office address. Therefore, accountants should identify any affected clients – it’s easy to produce a registered office address report of all your clients’ registered office addresses in Inform Direct – and consider approaching those clients to update to a new registered office address that will be considered ‘appropriate’ by Companies House.

Change registered email address

If a registered email address has already been provided for a company or LLP at incorporation or via the first confirmation statement after 4 March 2024, it may later need to be updated.

This update will be via a new type of submission, which we explain in our article dedicated to the registered email address.

Once Companies House confirm the facility is available, you’ll be able to submit the new electronic form to update the registered email address via Inform Direct.

Change company name

The same restrictions on company names on incorporation will apply when changing an existing company’s name from 4 March 2024. That means a change of name request for a company or LLP will be rejected if the proposed new name:

  • indicates that the business will be used for criminal purposes;
  • indicates that the business has links to foreign governments or international organisations; or
  • includes computer code.

Let us know any feedback you have

These updates are part of our work to help accountants and others comply with the company secretarial requirements of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act.

Please do let us have any feedback on this or any other features of Inform Direct and any enhancements that would help you with your company secretarial work.

We continually make improvements to Inform Direct, which you can see on our timeline of updates.

Inform Direct makes it quick and easy to maintain statutory registers, manage company records and submit filings to Companies House at the touch of a button.

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