All change at Companies House

Companies House have announced several changes to their operations in the coming year in response to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act approved in 2023. The measures to be imposed aim to improve the transparency and accuracy of the information held on their registers.

The changes commence on 4 March 2024 and are bringing about amendments to the rules around the registered office addresses and the registrar’s powers.

Changes to the registered office address

From 4 March 2024, all companies must have an ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office address. They have defined an ‘appropriate address’ as:

• any documents sent to the registered office should be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company.
• any documents sent to that address can be recorded by an acknowledgement of delivery.

Therefore, companies using P.O Boxes as their registered office address will no longer be able to use these as their registered office. Companies House have stated that action will be taken against companies who are not using an appropriate address. If it is found that a company is not using an appropriate address, Companies House can change it to the default address and, if not rectified in 28 days, the registrar can commence strike off proceedings against the company.

Email addresses and Companies House

From 4 March 2024, companies will be required to provide a registered email address. Companies House will use this email address to communicate directly with the company. The email address will not be placed on the public register.

Statement of lawful purpose

Also being brought in on 4 March 2024 is a requirement when registering a new company. The subscribers to the company will be required to confirm that they are forming the company for a lawful purpose.

The company will also be required to confirm on the annual confirmation statement that it’s intended future activities are lawful.

Registrar’s Powers

In addition to the above from 4 March there will be an enhancement of the Registrar’s powers to query and challenge information that appears to be incorrect, inconsistent, false or fraudulent.

Enforcement and Sanctions

Companies House will be able to impose serious consequences for a company’s failure to respond to a formal request from Companies House. These consequences can include:

– Financial penalties
– An annotation on the company’s record
– Prosecution

Starting from 1 May 2024, Companies House are increasing their fees for company incorporations and registration fees. Entities impacted by the changes include Limited Companies, LLPs, Overseas Companies, Limited Partnerships, those registered on the Overseas Entity register, among others. Perhaps the most significant of the rises being the increase in the fee for the digital filing of the confirmation statement, jumping from just £13 to £34. As this filing is required annually, this is a notable increase in the annual cost of compliance for a company.

Companies House review their fees on an annual basis and any increases are set on a cost recovery basis.

Further changes – Identity verification

Companies House are set to establish a new identification system with the intention of deterring those who wish to use companies for illegal activities.

For new companies, all directors and persons of significant control will need to complete the identity verification during the application. Existing companies will be granted a transition period to complete the verification process.

At the time of writing, there is no set date that we can expect the new verification system to be brought into action however we will be monitoring the updates closely and will be in contact to assist you to ensure compliance with the new regime.

If you would like to speak to a member of the RPGCC team about company secretarial matters or any area of your Companies House compliance you can contact us or telephone us on 020 7870 9050.

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