The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (the "Act") has now received Royal Assent and become law. Its objective is to deliver a range of reforms to tackle economic crime and improve transparency over corporate entities.

Key changes

The reforms will result in a number of changes to the role of Companies House, including:

  • Identity verification for all new and existing registered company directors, people with significant control, and those filing documents at Companies House.
  • Broadening the registrar's 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.
  • Provision of greater investigation and enforcement powers for Companies House and increasing their ability to share relevant information with partners.
  • Enhancing the protection of personal information provided to Companies House to protect individuals from fraud and other harms.

What happens next?

Companies House has stated that some of the measures in the Act, such as identity verification, will not be introduced straight away, as many of these changes need system development and secondary legislation before they are introduced. However, other measures will come into force sooner, such as:

  • Greater powers to query information. Companies House will be able to question and reject information that seems incorrect or inconsistent with information already on the register.
  • New rules for registered office addresses. This will mean all companies must have an appropriate address at all times and 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. The registered email address will be requested within the incorporation process, and for existing companies, on filing the first confirmation statement.
  • A requirement for all companies to confirm they are 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.

It is expected that these measures will come into force in early 2024.

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