A registered office address is the official address of a company (or limited liability partnership) registered with Companies House. By virtue of Section 86 of the Companies Act 2006, every company must always have a registered office in the UK, even if it carries on its business from abroad (or just sells products online rather than from a physical location).
The registered office is the address to which government bodies – primarily Companies House and HMRC, but possibly also other agencies – may address official communications, notices and reminders relating to the company.
It is assumed that any official notice sent to the company’s registered office address has been received by the company. Because of this, the company’s registered office address must be effective for delivering documents to the company and its directors. It’s the company’s responsibility to ensure they have access to documents received at this address.
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A company’s registered office address is shown on the public register, available to everyone. This helps support corporate transparency, making it easy to see where a company is officially based. On the other hand, it does give an address to which some people may choose to send unsolicited marketing. Partly for that reason, many companies select a registered office address that’s different to their usual business address.
The initial registered office address is included in form IN01 when the company is first formed and in many cases will remain that address for the entire life of the company. However, the directors may later choose to change the company’s registered office address.
What must the company do with the registered office address?
The primary requirement is that the registered office address must be readily available for post to be delivered to. Where necessary, someone will need to be available to sign for documents received at the registered office address. The person physically receiving the documents does not have to be an officer or employee of the company, but the company must receive official documents sent to the registered office – even if, for example, they are forwarded on by a third party mail delivery service.
The address of the registered office should also appear on a company’s:
- Business letters, emails and other correspondence
- Other stationery
- Invoices and order forms
- Brochures and other marketing material
The company name must usually also be displayed at the registered office address (as well as any other office from which it carries out business), so that a customer or member of the public can view it. Most companies interpret this requirement as meaning that the company name should be shown on a sign outside the registered office address, which helps to comply with the Companies House requirement that “The sign must be easy to read and to see at any time, not just when you’re open”.
Companies that have been dormant from the date of incorporation are now exempt from the requirement to display the company name at their registered office address.
it’s just as valid to maintain electronic records
Unless they’re kept at a SAIL address, a company must also make certain documents – various statutory records and company registers – available to inspect at the registered office address. Although the likelihood is slim, a member of the public may request in writing to inspect these records, so documents like the company’s register of members and register of directors will need to be available there. While many companies choose to maintain a physical hard copy of these documents, it’s just as valid to maintain electronic records using software like Inform Direct.
Because of these requirements, it’s important to choose the right address for your company’s registered office. To help meet them effectively, many companies choose also to employ a SAIL address, which is subject to many of the same rules described above.
At any time, a company can also choose to change the registered office address if another address becomes more suitable for the purpose.
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