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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Changes to UK company law: a big moment for Companies House

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill has achieved royal assent and become law. This is one of the most significant moments for Companies House in our long history.

I’m delighted that we can now play a much greater role in disrupting economic crime and preventing abuse of the register, while supporting economic growth and ease of doing business in the UK.

The measures set out in the act will give us new and enhanced powers to improve the quality and reliability of our data.

We’ll also be able to act more quickly if people tell us their personal information has been used on the register without their consent. This will make a real difference to individuals and it’s something I’m particularly passionate about.

The measures include:

  • introducing identity verification for all new and existing registered company directors, people with significant control, and those who file on behalf of companies
  • broadening my powers to become a more active gatekeeper over company creation and a custodian of more reliable data
  • improving the financial information on the register so that the register is more reliable and accurate, reflects the latest advancements in digital technology, and enables better business decisions
  • providing Companies House with more effective investigation and enforcement powers, and increasing our ability to share relevant information with partners
  • enhancing the protection of personal information to protect individuals from fraud and other harms

Louise Smyth smiling. Text reads: Changes to UK company law

New objectives for the Registrar of Companies

The act has introduced 4 new objectives for me as the Registrar of Companies for England and Wales. Alongside my colleagues, I’ll promote these objectives while carrying out my duties:

  1. To ensure that anyone who is required to deliver a document to the registrar does so (and that the requirements for proper delivery are complied with).
  2. To ensure information contained in the register is accurate and that the register contains everything it ought to contain.
  3. To ensure that records kept by the registrar do not create a false or misleading impression to members of the public.
  4. To prevent companies and others from carrying out unlawful activities, or facilitating others to carry out unlawful activities.

As an organisation, we’ll base our decisions on these objectives. Our new and enhanced powers will give us the tools we need to act on those decisions.

These objectives also apply to the Registrar of Companies for Scotland and the Registrar of Companies for Northern Ireland.  

What happens next

Although the Bill has received royal assent and is now an act, you do not need to do anything differently just yet.

Some of the measures in the act, such as identity verification, will not be introduced straight away. Many of these changes need system development and secondary legislation before they're introduced.

However, other measures will come into force sooner. Over time, they’ll lead to improved transparency and more accurate and trusted information on our registers.

These early measures include:

  • greater powers to query information. This means we’ll be able to scrutinise and reject information that seems incorrect or inconsistent with information already on the register. In some cases, we’ll be able to remove information.
  • stronger checks on company names
  • new rules for registered office addresses which will mean all companies must have an appropriate address at all times. Companies will not be able to use a PO Box as their registered office address.
  • a requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address
  • a requirement for all companies to confirm they’re forming the company for a lawful purpose when they incorporate. Every year, the company will need to confirm that its future activities will be lawful on their confirmation statement.
  • annotations on the register to let users know about potential issues with the information that’s been supplied to us
  • taking steps to clean up the register, using data matching to identify and remove inaccurate information
  • sharing data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies

We expect these measures to come into force in early 2024.

We will not be able to identify every piece of information or document on the register that could be incorrect or inconsistent. However, we’ll base all our decisions on our new objectives to make sure we’re making best use of our new and enhanced powers.

Changes to our fees

We’ll be increasing some of our fees from early 2024. Companies House fees are set on a cost recovery basis. This means our fees must cover the cost of the services we deliver.

We review our fees every year to make sure they’re set at the right level. Even after the increase, our fees will remain some of the lowest in the world.

Keeping up to date on the changes that affect you

We’ll share more information over the coming weeks and months about the introduction of these changes. It’s important that you understand what you need to do differently when you file information with Companies House, and when you need to do it.

There are lots of different ways you can keep up to date:

Teams across Companies House have been working incredibly hard to prepare for the upcoming changes while the Bill made its way through Parliament, and I couldn’t be prouder of my colleagues.

This work will continue at pace as we enter the next exciting stage of the legislative process. We can’t wait to make these changes a reality and to make a real difference in disrupting economic crime and supporting economic growth.

Sharing and comments

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  1. Comment by David Govan posted on

    Please don't go back to charging for a look at the information. Your costs should be met by those filing.

  2. Comment by Edward Finholdt posted on

    Just perfect!!!

  3. Comment by An Ngoc Nguyen posted on

    Can you give me the documents

  4. Comment by John Byrne posted on

    Can you please ensure to provide guidance for Overseas Companies (with FC prefix) on filing requirements and Company Director verification as I understand there will be numerous changes in the future

  5. Comment by J.Ashby posted on

    Glad something is improving. We had someone fraudulently use our address for their business, and had to go through hoops to get it changed. We had to prove we had nothing to do with this business, was time consuming and stressful, with phonecalls, and providing documented evidence. It should never have happened, companies house need to diligently verify those registering, not innocent people having to put time and effort in to it to get documents changed that have absolutely to do with them.

  6. Comment by David Bateman posted on

    This is all very well. However at present anybody can set up a company without , it seems, any check on who they are and use any address with no check that it is their address. None of this will change for 18 months. This all seems very weak.

  7. Comment by Rebecca Marcano posted on

    I am happy to hear about these changes and to learn that robust measures will be put in place. I had my personal home address used to register a company that I had no affiliation with or no knowledge of who the individuals were. I felt violated and it caused me a lot of distress getting letters addressed to individuals and their company delivered to my home address. The onus was on me to prove who I was and as a busy employee and carer this was very distressing. I attempted to report to Action for fraud and this was not listed as an option to select so I couldn't do that either so I felt very helpless. Therefore I feel reassured that something is being done within your organisation to highlight and address this so that legitimate businesses are registered and scam and fraudsters are exposed and they should be fined and their activities should be recorded on the system and banned from registering any company for a period of time as a warning in the first instance and then if they repeat this banned completely and or recorded on their credit file for 6 years.

    • Replies to Rebecca Marcano>

      Comment by Sylvia Pack posted on

      Rebecca l totally agree .That businesses who are scammers and fraudsters should be named and shamed and not allowed to ever have a business again, or even be allowed to change name of company in order to carry on. My daughter is a victim of a builder registered at companies house, but only gives addresses of two registered offices, one being the accountants and the other the address where the business operates from, but l believe that the company directors home address should also be registered. When people have been victims of fraud then they should be allowed to report this to Companies House for them to investigate, to prevent this happening to others.

  8. Comment by Christopher Wynne posted on

    It all looks like good news, but for me it may be time to wind up my company, as I am nearly 78 and it is not doing much now.

    I have been intrigued over the years because as a director I understood that my home address was required for my personal information and if a customer wanted to contact me I was accessible. Over tha years I see more and more directors use their company registered office as their own address. As a result a few years ago when I was personally defrauded over a purchase, but there was no means of contacting a director when the company went into liquidation.

    I realise with Data Protection and GDPR rules, you may have to exercise even more caution, but I think if you have pride in your company and nothing to hide you should use your home address.

    • Replies to Christopher Wynne>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Christopher, thanks for your comment. A director must provide 2 addresses:

      - a correspondence address for the public register, known as a service address
      - a home address, known as a usual residential address

      A correspondence address is one directors can use to receive communications about the company. This can be the same as the registered office address of the company, or it can be somewhere different. A residential address is a director’s usual home address. It’s not available on the public register for everyone to see and is kept on a private register.

    • Replies to Christopher Wynne>

      Comment by Sylvia Pack posted on

      Christopher à
      What you say is very true. If you have nothing to hide then you should use your personal address, and not their registered offices or place where you operate from. My daughter is a victim of fraud and letters and emails etc sent to both addresses even phone calls were ignored. If that company directors home address was there then there would be no excuse for them not to reply. You are obviously have been a very honest and trustworthy person . Very hard to find people you can trust these days.

  9. Comment by Mrs Terry Henshaw posted on

    I think this is a very good idea, however, on a personal note as a Company Secretary of more mature years less accustomed to technology I am hoping that the eventual procedure for confirming personal identity of all company officers will be straight forward. I will have to collect and collate for 4 directors not all of whom are local to the registered office.

  10. Comment by Martin Waterhouse posted on

    Good news, this should stop an individual continuing to use my personal address as his businesses addresses.

  11. Comment by Lance Mauger posted on

    Please make sure that it does not become an administration nightmare for small company's and keep lost manhours to a minimum!
    We are a small company without a shareholding set up to manage a private estate (essentially as a residents association). Our turnover is around £3,000.
    We are plagued with: solicitors, house agents, banks, and now yourselves all demanding passports & photo documentation to estatblish identity and expected to deliver it all personally.
    No organisation is free from being hacked either fraudulently or unintentionaly by staff so such documentation held by all these groups is a liability to us small company directors.

    Please limit such requirements to larger companies and exclude the hundreds of small company's like ours because the hours spent doing this stuff is disproportionate in terms of our administration budgets.

  12. Comment by TP posted on

    "Companies House fees are set on a cost recovery basis. This means our fees must cover the cost of the services we deliver"

    And yet it's illegal for me to charge a fee for ANY of the services that I deliver!!!

  13. Comment by Linda R Durman posted on

    I would welcome information on the definition of 'a registered email address'. Does this mean registering the Company Secretary's personal email address or creation of a separate email address specific to the company?

  14. Comment by Trevor posted on

    Hopefully, the new legislation will prevent multiple company registrations by opportunists seeking to profit through the selling of company names to genuine business applicants.

  15. Comment by John Michael Hand posted on

    It all sounds very laudable and we will do our very best to abide by its provisions.

  16. Comment by anonymous posted on

    This is great news ! We need better governance on this and to ensure the data being used is correct and fit for purpose.
    Please do not make this as excuse to put massive charges in place, as a small/ medium sized company we are getting battered enough !

  17. Comment by Don Cameron posted on

    Sounds like more hassle and more charges for honest businesses.
    Is it really necessary?

  18. Comment by Graham Ross posted on

    I am pleased to see that one of the objectives is to ensure the accuracy of information on the Register. Will that include powers to amend information on Directorships and shareholdings? Currently CH does not seek to verify the information claimed nor seek documentary evidence. I come across many cases in my work where CH is informed that a Director is no longer a Director, when this is not the case in law. Also that shareholdings have been transferred to someone else when they have not or other changes in the share structure when the necessary steps in law have not been taken. CH currently leaves resolution to the courts, which is time consuming and costly. This opens the way for abuse when shareholders fall into dispute, Will that now change?

    • Replies to Graham Ross>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Graham, thanks for your comment. It will depend on the circumstances of each case.

      For a genuine dispute of the facts between parties, then a remedy is still likely to rest with the courts.

      However the new act will give Companies House broader powers to remove information from the register, if the registrar is satisfied that the disputed information is inaccurate, false or fraudulent. The act will also provide Companies House with a new power – to require a person to provide additional information – if we’re unable to make a decision. Therefore there may be occasions when Companies House can become involved, but it will depend on the circumstance of each case.

  19. Comment by Ian Collins posted on

    An active Director of a company has our address listed as his home address at Companies House and we’ve been told that it’s up to the Company to change it. Is it a legal requirement for Companies to update their information and if so aren’t Companies house compelled to ensure that their details are correct and up to date. We’ve lived at the address for 3 years and we were unaware that the Director, who used to live here was using it as his private address.

    • Replies to Ian Collins>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Ian, it’s the company’s responsibility to provide accurate and timely information. Until recently, the registrar’s role has been to register company information and make it available for public inspection. Companies House has had limited powers to ensure the integrity of information on the register or improve its accuracy. Our new powers will soon allow us to query and challenge information that appears to be incorrect or inconsistent with information we hold. In some cases, we’ll be able to remove information more quickly, if that information is inaccurate, incomplete, false or fraudulent. Please email if you'd like to report inaccurate information on the register.

  20. Comment by Sophie Johnson posted on

    Please tell me the meaning of 'unlawful activities' in this context (Objectives):

    '4.To prevent companies and others from carrying out unlawful activities, or facilitating others to carry out unlawful activities.'

    Is it too optimistic of me to expect that I might henceforth seek Companies House help with putting an end to behaviours in my company that breach provisions of the Act, and of our company's other statutory document, our lease? (Ours is a registered company limited by shares. Its sole activity in the management of our block of 20 flats.)

    • Replies to Sophie Johnson>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Sophie, thanks for your comment. The matters in respect of your company are more technical breaches of internal governance, and if relevant, legislation.
      Objective 4 recognises the new role Companies House will play in the wider fight against economic crime. We’d expect ‘unlawful activities’ in this context to be of a criminal nature in most cases. To help the registrar meet this objective, Companies House will have increased powers to analyse our data and share relevant information with other government departments and law enforcement.

      • Replies to Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead>

        Comment by Sophie Johnson posted on

        Thank you for your very helpful answer, Ellis. If I may, I should like to ask for your further clarification of this remark:

        'We’d expect ‘unlawful activities’ in this context to be of a criminal nature in most cases.'

        Am I right in thinking that fraud, as defined by the Fraud Act 2006 at sections 1 and 2 ( is a criminal activity?

  21. Comment by Carter posted on

    If Companies House has allowed its register to be used to mask the criminal activities of others, will Companies House take responsibility of its actions and provide compensation to all those who have been a victim of such crimes. If so, how would one seek compensation if they have been a victim of such a crime whereby Companies House has allowed criminals to use its established procedures, i.e. some of its forms, that have been used for specific fraudulent purposes that are kept hidden from other government agencies?

    • Replies to Carter>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Carter, thanks for your comment. Until recently, the registrar’s role has been to register company information and make it available for public inspection. Companies House has had limited powers to ensure the integrity of information on the register or improve its accuracy.

  22. Comment by Jim Flemming posted on

    This is all well and good but for me, it seems to me the UK government is missing the mark here. You have not even sorted out the big privacy problem you have created for generations to come.

    I think we should start with that first. Don't you think?

    As someone who works on a government backed programme for a government department and a director of a small company, my details are readily accessible online with my year and month of birth and other relevant information and I can become the target of hackers and other state actors of cyber crime.

    Secondly, it seems to me that you have no interest in privacy. You hide behind the Companies Act of 2006 but you have enough powers to make changes within that law. Have a public register by all means but why the Date of Birth? Why the obsession with it? Why can't you just remove that? or better have a service where an application must be made with valid reasons for dates of births to be revealed by those who require that information? I would like to see your studies and findings that suggests publishing the date of birth of directors and persons with significant controls help with transparency? Do you even have a privacy impact assessment study that can be viewed by the public?

    Secondly, why not have a service that ensures that those who want to access and view directors record have got to go through robust processes not to misuse the data?

    I can say that most people would be very much happy with that as a start. These new processes and regulations are fine but I think you really need to address the increasing risk of privacy until someone gets harmed and a life is lost.

    • Replies to Jim Flemming>

      Comment by Ellis Davies - Digital Engagement Lead posted on

      Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. We appreciate you're concerned that your month and year of birth are displayed on the public register. In return for the benefits of limited liability, a company must be open and transparent. Anyone who becomes a director of a company must be prepared for some of their details to be publicly accessible. Companies House has a statutory duty to collect that information and make it available. This includes a full name, service address and the month and year of their birth (or in the case of documents filed prior to 10 October 2015, the full date of birth), which can assist the public in ensuring they're dealing with the correct person when interacting with a company. As this information is required by enactment (Companies Act 2006), it's exempt from UK GDPR provisions.

      The public register is open to anyone who wishes to search and obtain information from it. Information provided by any director to Companies House is intended for publication, subject to certain legislative conditions. Searchers of the public record should be able to do this as easily and as quickly as possible via the internet. Most internet users rely on search engines to index data to enable them to find what they're looking for. As such we provide unrestricted access to the data we obtain. However, unlike Companies House, third parties do not have a legal obligation to publicly display personal data. Any individual has a right to request that the relevant third party removes their personal data.

      As part of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, the government will introduce measures to prevent abuse of personal information held on the Companies House register. These measures will all need secondary legislation and system development before they’re implemented. We do not have a timeframe for the implementation of these measures yet, but we’ll keep you updated on our channels. However, the requirement to publicly display a director’s name, service address and month and year of birth will remain.

  23. Comment by Carter posted on

    Thanks for your reply Ellis Davies, however I don't think that my question has been answered. Companies House may indeed have limited powers to ensure the integrity of information on the register. However, there are some instances whereby forms that have been created by Companies House, are being used for nefarious purposes. My question is this, if a particular form from Companies House, has been used in which to hide from another government agency a particular fact, would Companies House be allowing itself to be party to a crime without the other government agency being aware of such an activity, especially when that government agency is responsible for registering a particular fact?