This post explains what Service Addresses are, why they are used, who uses them, the benefits, the situations when a company should consider using them, and what kinds of addresses may be used.
Service Address - what it is?
To answer that question, we need to give some background. 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 to register that company for Corporation Tax and/or Value Added Tax with HMRC.
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) must also register an address with Companies House; known as the officers’ “Service Address”. Similarly, for UK partnerships (including Limited Liability Partnerships), partners must also register a Service Address. Companies House and the HMRC use the Service Address for commutating with the officers of the company.
In the case of both the company’s Registered Address and the officers’ Service Address(es), the address used must be a physical place that documents can be served to (i.e. not a PO Box). Both the company’s Registered Address and officers’ Service Addresses are held on an online public database that can be accessed by anyone, worldwide, without pre-registration.
Common misconceptions about Service Addresses
As already mentioned, in the UK it is not permissible to use a Post Office Box or a virtual address as an officers’ Service Address.
Also, 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 businesses 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, or 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!
Vistra offers comprehensive Company Secretarial support including Registered Office Address and Service Address.
If you need a Service Address for your UK entity, please get in touch with [email protected].