A service address is required by every UK limited company director (and some others) as an address to receive official mail and notices to that person from Companies House, HMRC and other government bodies. It’s on the public record for that company, meaning anyone looking on Companies House’s website can view the address.
An individual director’s service address is different from:
A. Their residential address
A director must also submit their usual residential address to Companies House, but unlike the service address this is not shown on the public record. Companies House will not usually use the residential address to correspond with a director, instead writing to the service address.
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B. The company’s registered office address
A registered office is the official address of a limited company or LLP, to which mail and other legal documents related to the company (as opposed to any particular officer) would be sent by Companies House, HMRC and other government bodies. So the service address will only be used for mail that relates to that director, unless mail to the registered office is returned as undeliverable – when Companies House may send it on to one or more directors’ service addresses.
Who must have a service address?
Each of the following must provide a service address to Companies House:
The requirement to provide a service address applies for both individuals and corporate entities in these roles. So, for example, an individual director and a corporate director would each need to provide a service address to Companies House.
A service address must be submitted to Companies House both for those who take these roles at the formation of the company and those who join later in the company’s life.
The initial subscribers to the memorandum of a new company – shareholders of a company limited by shares or members of a company limited by guarantee – must also provide an address, which appears on the public record. Shareholders and guarantors who join the company after it’s formed do not need to provide an address to Companies House, unless they also hold one or more of the roles listed above.
Where can I choose as my service address?
There are very few restrictions on an address that can be used as your service address. The service addresses of different directors don’t have to be the same, meaning individuals have substantial choice:
- Unlike a usual residential address, the service address may be residential or commercial;
- Unlike the company’s registered office address, a service address does not have to be in the UK (or a particular part of it) – it can be anywhere in the world.
The address must be a complete postal address. A PO Box number cannot be used as a service address, but a PO Box will typically be acceptable as long as you supply Companies House with the full postal address, including the postcode.
Directors do not need to operate from their service address. Neither do they need to personally visit it. But they will need to be able to promptly receive mail which is sent to that address, so if they don’t visit it regularly they’ll need to ensure someone there will either notify them or send it on. It’s also important that it’s somewhere that important post from regulatory bodies won’t get mixed up or lost.
Can I use the company’s registered office as my service address?
While they have different purposes, it’s perfectly acceptable for the company’s registered office address and the service address of its directors and others to be the same address. Sometimes, this is most convenient, particularly if the directors work from the company’s premises – as all official post relating to the business will go to the same address.
It’s even possible for a service address to the recorded as “The registered office of the company”. By doing this, rather than stating a specific address, the individual’s service address will always be the same as the company’s registered office address – even if the registered office address itself is later changed.
Although it’s quite common for a service address to be the same as the company’s registered office address, it doesn’t have to be. Perhaps to separate out their personal official mail, an officer or PSC may choose to use another address as their service address.
Can I use my residential address as my service address?
There are no legal restrictions preventing you from using your home address as your service address. However, many directors decide against this option because the service address is shown on the public record, meaning your home address would be visible to everyone. As well as wanting to keep their residential address private, many directors prefer to keep their home and work correspondence separate.
A popular alternative, if the director doesn’t have access to an address other than their residential address, is to purchase a professional service address service. These services are typically provided by company formation agents and company secretarial firms. The professional address – often in London or another ‘prestigious’ location – is the one disclosed on the public record as your official service address and official mail will then be received there. Post can then either be scanned and emailed or forwarded to the director at their home address (or another address of their choice) but which does not need to be placed on the public register.
How to change a service address
Sometimes a director or other person involved in a company will need to change their service address, because they now want official mail to be delivered to a different address.
A person’s service address can be changed at any time after a company is formed. Companies House must be informed within 14 days. The following forms are used for limited companies:
- Form CH01 for an individual director
- Form CH02 for a corporate director
- Form CH03 for an individual secretary
- Form CH04 for a corporate secretary
- Form PSC04 for an individual person with significant control
- Form PSC05 for a relevant legal entity with significant control
- Form PSC06 for an ‘other registrable person’ with significant control
Different forms must be submitted for LLPs:
- Form LL CH01 for an individual LLP member
- Form LL CH02 for a corporate LLP member
- Form LL PSC04 for an individual person with significant control
- Form LL PSC05 for a relevant legal entity with significant control
- Form LL PSC06 for an ‘other registrable person’ with significant control
While subscribers to the memorandum of association must provide an address to Companies House when the company is formed, they do not need to notify Companies House of any later change in their address (as long as they do not hold another role which requires a current service address to be maintained).
the change is not effective until it has been registered by Companies House
If the person holds multiple roles for which their service address is changing, the respective form for each role needs to be filed with Companies House. For that reason, many people choose to use an integrated company secretarial solution like Inform Direct – which will identify all the forms that need to be submitted when a person’s details are updated and send them electronically – rather than filling in individual forms on paper or making multiple repetitive updates via Companies House’s own online WebFiling service.
Once Companies House have approved the change in service address, it will appear on the public record within about 24 hours. Note that the change itself is not effective until it has been registered by Companies House.
As well as notifying Companies House, a change to the service address for a director, PSC or LLP member must be reflected in the company’s statutory registers. In Inform Direct, updates to a suite of online company registers are automatic when you make a service address change.
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