Are Virtual office address allowed

under the new companies house changes

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On the company house website it says on the subject of registered addresses

"An address is an ‘appropriate address’ if, in the ordinary course of events: 

a document addressed to the company, and delivered there by hand or by post, would be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company

the delivery of documents there is capable of being recorded by the obtaining of an acknowledgement of delivery

These changes mean you’re not able to use a PO Box as your registered office address"

Therefore I assume a virtual office address would not be allowed as there would be no one to represent the company but an accountants address would be permitted as they are acting on behalf of the company or is it just PO Box address are effectively banned.

How would all these companies manage where the director is based overseas and have no employees in the UK ?

Replies (16)

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By SkyBlue22
17th Jun 2024 14:32

This page confirms yes, you can't use a PO Box so I would assume a Virtual address is probably also not allowed, though it doesn't specify as much
https://companieshouse.blog.gov.uk/2024/01/22/get-ready-for-changes-to-u...

I did a bit more 'googling' and some places suggest you can, though these are not Gov pages...

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Replying to SkyBlue22:
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By taxwizard
17th Jun 2024 15:59

I missed one point. Its says

You can still use a third-party agent’s address if they meet the conditions for an appropriate address.

Now does a virtual office provider would meet his condition

"any documents sent to the registered office should be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company"

They wouldn't be considered as acting for the company

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Replying to taxwizard:
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By Beancounting
17th Jun 2024 16:09

But they are being paid to act on behalf of the company by giving it to someone who can deal with it. Its fine as far as I can see.

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Replying to taxwizard:
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By Joe Alderson
17th Jun 2024 17:09

taxwizard wrote:

I missed one point. Its says

You can still use a third-party agent’s address if they meet the conditions for an appropriate address.

Now does a virtual office provider would meet his condition

"any documents sent to the registered office should be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company"

They wouldn't be considered as acting for the company


If the virtual office comes with a receptionist/administrator who receives post and forwards it on, would they be acting for the company?
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DougScott
By Dougscott
17th Jun 2024 14:40

I'm not sure what a "virtual address" is but if there is no one there to acknowledge delivery then you clearly can't use it, not that all that stops people using false addresses!

It would be good if HMRC used real addressess and acknowledged delivery too wouldn't it?

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Replying to Dougscott:
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By taxwizard
17th Jun 2024 14:51

There are a lot of virtual office address providers where we can use their address and they send any mail electronically to me. I work from home so really do not want to provide my address so the virtual office address comes in handy. There are thousands of companies that use that address

There are offices at the address which can be booked for a meeting. I use one provider but wondering now if this is no longer allowed and what is the alternative.

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By Bobbo
17th Jun 2024 15:06

I daresay the providers of 'virtual office address' services will have made any necessary amendments to the business model to ensure that the addresses they provide remain valid with the changes to the law.

(Though if they don't is it actually their problem?)

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By Beancounting
17th Jun 2024 16:11

As far as I can see there is no problem provided someone can sign for it and pass it on to someone who will deal with it.

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By Revels1
17th Jun 2024 18:39

The virtual office provider's job is to literally forward post to the correct person, i.e. to forward post to the "the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company".

Nothing has changed in this respect.

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By FactChecker
17th Jun 2024 19:02

I've been out, but can't understand why there's any confusion.

"An address is an ‘appropriate address’ if, in the ordinary course of events:
- a document addressed to the company, and delivered there by hand or by post, would be expected to come to the attention of a person acting on behalf of the company; and
- the delivery of documents there is capable of being recorded by the obtaining of an acknowledgement of delivery.
These changes mean you’re not able to use a PO Box as your registered office address."

A POB fails because it cannot meet the 2nd criteria listed; but a 'virtual office' is fine so long as that means a real physical address that provides a mail handling and forwarding service.
Personally I'd check the T&Cs of the service provider to make sure these include an SLA with regard to the frequency that post is 'processed' and the turnaround for it being forwarded to a nominated officer/agent (with a backup if for any reason that person cannot be contacted within, say, 24 hours).

CH are simply trying to block the two oldest excuses in the book - 'we never received it' and 'it never reached the right person' (now known as the Vennells defence).

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By Jdopus
18th Jun 2024 15:53

It occurs to me that it would be logistically impossible for Companies House to ban virtual office services until they at least instituted some method for companies to change their regional territory.

Just today I was looking at a client who for some reason had been registered as an English company by the last accountant even though both the business and the accountant are based in Northern Ireland. Literally impossible to fix because Companies House offer no option to do so, for reasons known only to themselves.
Therefore client is stuck paying for a virtual office service in England in perpetuity.

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Replying to Jdopus:
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By Bobbo
19th Jun 2024 15:13

Presumably there's a reason the client didn't just form an NI company after realising this?

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Replying to Bobbo:
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By Jdopus
19th Jun 2024 15:19

Hassle really, they had a lot of contracts signed and a lot of trade through the business before they ever became my client.

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By The Rogue
20th Jun 2024 09:31

So what happens if a virtual office which meets the criteria then stops doing so? I had a case recently where a customer's registered office was a firm of accountants. I couldn't get hold of the customer and contacted the accountants directly who said they hadn't had any contact for eighteen months.

I'm sure the accountants would like the address to be changed. Can they do this? What would they change it to? I understand it is the responsibility of the directors to either do it or authorise someone to do it. We think the directors had wound up the company informally by just walking away and we wrote off a small debt.

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Replying to The Rogue:
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By FactChecker
20th Jun 2024 12:02

"I understand it is the responsibility of the directors to either do it or authorise someone to do it"

As you indicate, not always possible, so there's:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/65e20cd97bc329001ab8c2a6/...

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
20th Jun 2024 10:48

British Monomarks are user-friendly and reputable (their claim to fame being they provided a virtual office address for British Royalty - George V or VI, I can't recall which). They offer virtual office services for companies - so company registered office address - at 27 Old Gloucester Street, London (which is a physical office - v. small shopfront, but bricks and mortar nonetheless).

I'm sure they'd be willing and able to field this question.

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