Out-Law Guide 2 min. read
17 Jun 2010, 12:43 pm
This guide was last updated in May 2018
The UK government has said that the availability of addresses has resulted in directors being twice as likely as others to be the victim of identity fraud and the change in approach is intended to address this.
Until October 2009, the home addresses of directors and secretaries were available for all to see at Companies House. If an individual could show that they were at serious risk of violence or intimidation, a confidentiality order could be applied for and, if granted, their private address would then be kept from public view. This was of most obvious use to those directors under threat from animal rights activists.
Since October 2009, only service addresses, which may be the company’s registered office or any other business address, have had to appear on the public record. Directors still have to give a home address to their company on appointment, and the company still has to pass that address on to Companies House, but it’s now kept confidential, with no right of access for the general public. Secretaries need only give a service address.
The big drawback with these rules was that home addresses already available at Companies House before 1 October 2009 continued to be available. The only exception was for directors who could show a serious risk of violence or intimidation because of the activities of the company on whose board they sat and even then, for technical reasons, only addresses posted after 1 January 2003 would be removed. In addition, some directors or their representatives filed forms at Companies House after October 2009 which included residential rather than service addresses.
The UK government has said that the availability of addresses has resulted in directors being twice as likely as others to be the victim of identity fraud and therefore measures were introduced to address this. From 26 April 2018, home addresses from any period can now be removed from the public record at Companies House. To do this a director must make an application to Companies House containing:
It is not possible to remove a residential address which has been used as a current or previous registered office address.
Application forms are available on request from Companies House and there is a fee per document requiring removal.
The confidentiality this reinforces is not absolute. Two groups continue to have access to home addresses: public authorities such as the police, HM Revenue & Customs and the FCA; and credit reference agencies (because the credit worthiness of directors may affect their companies’ access to bank lending). The latter can still be denied access if a director believes that they, and anyone who lives with them, is at serious risk of violence or intimidation; evidence of police involvement and quoting a police incident number will help any application for confidentiality.