Companies House reform brings tougher company checks

Companies House is introducing wide-ranging reforms – subject to new legislation being in place – from 4th March 2024. Directors need to get ready for the first wave of measures.

The reforms are being introduced to clamp down on financial crime and improve corporate transparency and form part of the recently enacted Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency (ECCT) Act. The changes will particularly impact when incorporating a new company, but existing companies are also affected.

Registered office

The use of a PO box as a registered office will no longer be permitted. A registered office must be an address where the recipient of documents can be recorded by an acknowledgement of delivery. This means that a third-party agent’s address should still be suitable.

Directors should make sure that any existing company using a PO box as a registered address has made a change by 4th March 2024. This can be done online at the Companies House website.

Any company without an appropriately registered office address risks being struck off the Companies House register.

Email address

When a company is incorporated from 4th March 2024, it will be a requirement to provide a registered email address for Companies House. The same email address can be used for more than one company:

  • Existing companies will need to provide an email address when they next file a confirmation statement.
  • Companies House will use the email address for communications about the company.
  • A company’s email address will not be published on the public register

It will be possible to update an email address in the same way as a company’s registered office address online at the Companies House website.

Lawful purpose

In future, the subscribers (shareholders) will need to confirm they are forming a new company for lawful purpose.

For existing companies, confirmation statements filed from the 4th March 2024 will include a declaration that a company’s future activities will be lawful. Companies House may take action if it receives information that a company is not operating lawfully.

Other changes are in the pipeline, in particular, mandatory identity checks for company officers will be introduced later in 2024. Details of the changes being introduced by the ECCT Act can be found on the government website.

About the author

Martin Aitken & Co Ltd is one of Scotland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants and business advisers.

Related news