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Companies House has made changes that all small and micro businesses must be aware of.

From 3 March 2024, the first measures of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act (ECCA) were implemented. This means company directors must share more detailed information than previously.

Companies House says the changes will give them greater powers to tackle and remove inaccurate information. And they will be able to share more data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies.

They say the measures are essential to help it clamp down on scam businesses and fraudulent companies. It comes after UK banks reported a surge in fake filings.

The changes – which includes banning the use of PO Box numbers as registered addresses – are coming into force in stages. These will include new requirements for identity verification, banning corporate directors and changes to record keeping.

Companies House changes you need to know about

What this all means is that company directors will be responsible for ensuring they find out what is changing. Whilst the regulations will add to the workload of company directors, Companies House believes they will reduce the number of fake and fraudulent operators.

To help, we outline the Companies House changes you need to know about from 4 March 2024.

Registered office address

Every company must have an ‘appropriate’ registered office address. This must be an address at which documents can be sent and reach the person acting for the company. It must also be an address at which an acknowledgement of delivery can be recorded.

You can use a third-party agent’s address (such as your accountant) if it meets the criteria. We will continue to offer this service to our clients.

The biggest change is that you cannot use PO Boxes any longer. Also, Companies House has the power to change any inappropriate registered office addresses to default addresses.

Registered email address

All companies are now required to provide a registered email address to Companies House. It will use the address to communicate with the company.

New companies will have to provide a registered email address when they incorporate. Existing companies will be required to provide one when they next file their confirmation statement.

Registered email addresses will not be published on the public register and the same email can be used for different companies. Agents, such as accountants, will be able to provide their email addresses providing they are sent to and brought to the attention of a person who acts on behalf of the company.

Failure to maintain an appropriate registered email addresses is an offence.

Statement of ‘lawful purpose’

Whilst this will be a simple ‘check box’ requirement, failure to do so will mean confirmation statements and company incorporation papers will be rejected.

Individuals who incorporate a company will be required to affirm that the company is being established for a lawful purpose. They must also verify that future activities being planned are lawful when they submit their annual confirmation statement.

Extra powers for Companies House

Greater powers are also being given to Companies House to challenge and/or reject information provided. The rules state that if they believe information is inaccurate, incomplete or fraudulent, they will be able to challenge the company’s details.

By flagging inconsistencies and issues that require further investigation on the register, it hopes to provide public notice of possible compliance problems.

From 1 May 2024, some fees will be increasing. We will give more information once this is released.
The government has published factsheets on the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act if you would like to find out more.

Keep up to date

We will be keeping our clients who run companies up to date with their requirements when the details are published. If you would like to know more, you can contact our experienced team today.