If you're a UK business or a business expanding into the UK, in most cases you will need to incorporate a legal entity (usually a limited liability company) with Companies House in the UK, and register that company for Corporation Tax and/or Value Added Tax with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the tax authority of the UK government.
This process requires businesses to provide Companies House with an official address for their company; known as the company's "Registered Office". HMRC and Companies House use the company's Registered Office to communicate with the company about its statutory filings and returns.
Officers of the company (directors, Persons with Significant Control (PSC), shareholders, auditors, or the Company Secretary) as well as partners of UK partnerships (including Limited Liability Partnerships) must also register an address with Companies House. Known as the officers' "Service Address", it will be used by Companies House and HMRC for commutating with the officers of the company.
Common misconceptions about Service Addresses
Both the company's Registered Address and the officers' Service Address must be a physical place that documents can be served to (i.e. not a PO Box). The addresses are held on an online public database that can be accessed by anyone worldwide without pre-registration.
While businesses tend to know that they can use an address other than their company's operational address as the company's Registered Office, some are unaware that in the UK they can use an address other than the officers' private or residential addresses, as their officers' Service Address.
Why would officers not want to use their private/residential/business address as their Service Address?
- It might be that your business is just starting out. You might be operating from home, or from a shared office facility, or you might be always on the move.
- You might have premises that are a perfect fit for your business (e.g. a warehouse, retail premises, or commercial building), but are not suitable for the receipt of important documents from HMRC or Companies House that could get easily get misplaced.
- You want to provide a professional image of you, your officers, and your business, at a prestigious location.
- You don't want clients, customers, or agents visiting your officers' private or home addresses (at least unannounced).
- It might be that your officer's tenancy agreement doesn't permit the use of their rental premises for this purpose.
- Your officers value their privacy. They don't want their private or home address on the Companies House public register which can be accessed by anyone online. For example, your CEO wouldn't want to be viewed in his/her back garden through Google Maps – true story!
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.