This aspect of limited company formation confuses a lot of people, so you’re not alone in wondering what the difference is between a service address and a registered office. These two addresses are completely different with separate purposes and requirements.
A service address is also required by all company directors, subscribers, company secretaries, LLP members and PSCs (‘people with significant control’ of a company). It serves as the official contact address for the individual where they receive official government mail from UK governing agencies, such as HMRC and Companies House.
A registered office, on the other hand, is the official contact address for the company or LLP itself. It serves as the official contact address for delivering official government mail by post or hand and for the public inspection of the firm’s registers.
About service addresses
- A service address must be provided to Companies House and maintained at all times by the following individuals:
- Limited company directors.
- Company secretaries.
- LLP members.
- Guarantors with in excess of 25% voting rights in a company.
- Shareholders who hold more than 25% of the company’s shares or voting rights.
- Any other person or registrable legal entity with significant control or influence over a company (these individuals are known as People with Significant Control, or simply PSCs).
- It is the official contact address where the aforementioned individuals receive official government mail and correspondence from UK governing agencies (e.g. Companies House and HMRC) regarding their role in the company or LLP.
- Companies House will display the address information on the public register.
- All members of the public have access to these contact details.
- Can be located anywhere in the world as it does not have to be in the UK.
- May be a residential or non-residential address.
- Can be the same address as the registered office (you can also ‘link’ the service address to your registered office so that it will automatically change whenever the latter is moved).
- The majority of individuals prefer to use an address that is not their place of residence due to the public nature of this information. Using an alternate one allows individuals to protect the privacy of their home from unwanted visitors and unsolicited mail.
- Address can be changed at any time.
- Companies House must be informed of any change of address.
The original shareholders or guarantors (a.k.a. ‘subscribers’) of a company who become members of the business are also required to supply a service address on incorporation.
Does my service address have to be in the UK?
No, your service address can be located in any country and you can change it at any time, as often as you wish.
Can I use my registered office as my service address?
Yes, you may use the same address as your registered office and service address.
About registered office addresses
A registered office is the official contact address of a private limited company or LLP.
- It must be located in the same UK country in which the company or LLP has been registered.
- Registered office details are disclosed on the central public register at Companies House and will remain there indefinitely, even if your company is dissolved.
- The principle purpose of a registered office is for receiving statutory correspondence and legal notices. These would come form Companies House, HMRC and other government agencies.
- The registered office can be a residential address or any other full physical address.
- A non-residential address is more appropriate for protecting the privacy of your home as well as providing your business with a professional, corporate image.
- You cannot use a PO Box number as a registered office.
- The registered office can also be changed at any time.
- Companies House must be notified of any change of address immediately. HMRC will be automatically notified by Companies House. Meaning there will be no need to contact them separately to report the change. Note that documentation can still validly be served at your old address for fourteen days after the change.
Can I move my registered office to a different country?
No, your registered office must always remain in the country in which your company is incorporated, i.e. England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. However, if you register your business in England and Wales, you can move your registered office from England to Wales, or vice versa. These two countries are classed as one for the purpose of company formation and registered offices.
Confidentiality of residential addresses
Directors, LLP members, subscribers and PSCs are required to provide their residential address details during the company formation or appointment process, although this information will only be made available to the public if used as a service address or registered office also.
If you require a service address to protect the privacy of your home, Rapid Formations can also provide one for you in London or Glasgow from £24.00 per year. All of your official government mail will be received at your chosen location. The mail will be scanned and emailed to you, within one working day, free of charge. For further information please take a look at our Service Address.
We can also provide limited companies and LLPs in England, Wales and Scotland with a London Registered Office in Covent Garden or a Scottish Registered Office in Glasgow city centre at a cost of £39.00 per year. All official government mail addressed to the company will be forwarded to you by scan and email, free of charge.