This guide explains what the public register is, what details you need to give us, and how the public can access this information.
You can watch our video about the public register with captions on YouTube (1m 50s).
What the public register is
Companies House is the registry for all UK limited companies.
In return for the benefits of limited liability, your company must be open and transparent. When you set up or ‘incorporate’ a company, we review and register certain information about your company and make it available to the public.
Your company must send us information about its activities, annual accounts and who controls it. You must also give details of its directors, who are responsible for running the company. Your company is expected to keep these details up to date during its lifetime.
This collection of public information is commonly known as the Companies House register or ‘public register’. The Companies House register is available worldwide for the public to search online free of charge.
You must keep the information on our register up to date, so that it’s useful to anybody looking at your company’s records. This includes those who want to do business with your company.
Anybody who becomes a director or officer of a company must be prepared for some of their details to be publicly available. It’s important to understand what information we have a duty to make available to the public. You must carefully consider any personal or sensitive information you decide to register.
What information we make public
Your company’s registered office address and single alternative inspection location (SAIL)
Your registered office address is the company’s official address. It must be a physical location where notices, letters and reminders can be delivered to the company.
Your company can also choose to use a SAIL address to hold some of its records for inspection at a different location.
If you use a sensitive address like your home address as your company’s registered office or SAIL, it’ll be available to the public. You cannot remove a registered office or SAIL address from the public register, even if it’s your home address.
If you’re a director of a registered company, some of your details will be made public. This includes your:
- month and year of your date of birth
A director must provide 2 addresses:
- a correspondence address for the public register - known as a ‘service address’
- their home address - known as the ‘usual residential address’
A correspondence address is one you can use to receive communications about the company. This can be the same as the registered office address of the company, or it can be somewhere different.
A residential address is a director’s usual home address. You must tell us your home address, but it will not be available on the public register for everyone to see. It’s kept on a private register.
We’ll only provide home address information to credit reference agencies and specified public authorities, such as the police. In certain circumstances, you may be able to restrict the disclosure of your home address to credit reference agencies.
If you use a sensitive address like your home address as your service address or the company’s registered office, it’ll be available to the public. You cannot remove a registered office address from the public register.
Date of birth
A new director must give their full date of birth on appointment, but it’s held on a private register. For directors appointed after 10 October 2015, only the month and year from the date of birth will be publicly available.
We only disclose the full date of birth if required by law - such as to credit reference agencies or the police. If the company chooses to keep its directors’ register at Companies House, the full date of birth will be available to the public.
A secretary does not have to give us their home address or date of birth. They must file a service address for the public register, to be used for correspondence. Like directors, this can be the same as the registered office address of the company, or it can be somewhere different.
If you give a sensitive address like your home address as a correspondence address, it’ll be available to the public.
People with significant control (PSCs)
PSCs must give the same personal information as directors for the public register, plus details of how they control the company. All PSC information is available to the public, but not their home address and full date of birth.
If a PSC chooses to use a sensitive address like their home address as a correspondence address, it’ll be available to the public.
You can find more information in our PSC guidance.
How the public can access information
There are a number of ways to find company information on the public register. The services we offer are:
- Companies House Service (CHS)
- contact centre
- information centres
- DVD products
- Data products
There’s more information about our services on each link.
Companies House Service (CHS) makes all of our public company data available free of charge. Company and officer information from CHS can also be found through search engines such as Google.
As the public register is open and available to anyone, we cannot stop third-parties from finding and using this information. We do not actively ‘index’ information from our search services, or have any features that make it easier for search engines to collect this information.
How other organisations can access information
As we’re required by law to make information available to the public, we’re exempt from certain data protection requirements.
Other organisations have the right to make copies of any information available on the public register. Once they hold your information, third-parties are responsible for making sure they comply with data protection law. We have no control over the information held by third parties.
If you have any concerns about your company data on third party products and websites, you must contact the organisation directly.
Some predetermined organisations like credit reference agencies, and specified public authorities such as the police, can request access to private information. This includes home addresses and full dates of birth of directors and PSCs.
We only disclose this information under strict circumstances, and if required by law.
How long your information remains available
Information about the officers of a company remains on the public register for the lifetime of the company. This information will be available to the public as long as the company is active. This includes details of all resigned officers and also applies to dormant companies.
When a company is dissolved, this information remains on the public register for 20 years. After 20 years, we have an agreement to transfer a selection of dissolved company records to The National Archives (TNA).
TNA will direct us to destroy any records that are not transferred. Any records transferred to TNA can be requested by the public.
We do not currently show any dissolved company records over 6 years old on our free Companies House Service. This will continue while we review our retention policy on dissolved records with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Customers can still access dissolved company records over 6 years old on our other search services.
How to protect your home address
You do not have to use a sensitive address (such as your home address) for your:
- correspondence address
- company’s registered office
- company’s SAIL
We have a statutory duty to make this information available to the public, so we cannot protect your address even if it’s sensitive.
If you run your company from home and do not want your home address available to the public, you should consider using a different address. If you only have a sensitive address to use, there’s a list of service providers and agents who can provide registered office services.
A quick online search will show other providers who offer similar services. All providers of registered office services will charge a fee for their services.
If you decide to use a registered office service, it’s important to have this in place before you incorporate your company.
You cannot remove a registered office address or SAIL from a company’s record after incorporation.
You must have permission to use the address, and the company must be contactable at the address given.
Any third parties that hold your information are responsible for making sure they comply with data protection law. If you have any concerns about your company data on third party products and websites, you must contact the organisation directly.
Asking to remove your home address
There are new laws to help you protect your home address on the public register, or remove it from publicly available documents.
You can ask us to remove a sensitive address like your home address if you’ve used it as a correspondence address on public documents, such as an appointment form. You’ll need to know which documents contain your address. Check this by finding your company on the Companies House register.
Download an application form to remove your home address from the public register. It costs £32 for each document you want to amend.
The return address and payment details are on the form.
You cannot ask to remove your company’s registered office address, even if it’s a sensitive address like your home address.
Addresses we cannot remove
We do not have the legal power to remove a sensitive or home address that’s been used as a:
- company’s registered office
- company’s SAIL
- place of business
You can change your address, but any previous addresses you’ve used will remain on the public register for:
- the lifetime of the company
- 20 years after the company’s been dissolved
Why we cannot remove your data under The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Companies House does not have to comply with requests under the GDPR to exercise the right to erasure or rectification. This is because the GDPR allows an exemption under Schedule 2, Part 1 (5) of the Data Protection Act 2018.
This exemption applies to Companies House because we must make information about registered companies available to the public under the Companies Act 2006.
Read our privacy notice for more information on how we handle your personal data.
Withhold your address from credit reference agencies
If you’re at risk of violence or intimidation because of your company’s work, you may be able to restrict the disclosure of your home address to credit reference agencies. You must be able to provide proof, which could include:
- a police incident number if you’ve been attacked
- documentary evidence of a threat or attack, such as photos or recordings
- evidence of possible disruption or targeting, such as by animal rights or other activists
- proof showing that you work for an organisation whose activities put you at risk, such as the Secret Intelligence Service
Protection for PSCs
Some companies will have PSCs whose information is protected. Like directors, this could mean their residential address is not disclosed to credit reference agencies. It could also mean that none of their PSC information will appear on the public register.
Our guidance has more information about protecting PSCs personal information.
Other ways to protect your personal information
Keep your authentication code safe.
The authentication code is a 6 digit alphanumeric code we issue to each company. The code is used to authorise information filed online and is the equivalent of a company officer’s signature.
You should treat your company’s authentication code with the same care you would your bank card PIN. Anyone who knows your code has the ability to change your company’s details online.
This free service lets you protect your company from unauthorised changes to your records, by preventing the filing of certain paper forms.
Report fraud to Companies House immediately.
Forward any suspicious emails to email@example.com and do not open any attachments or disclose personal information. We’ll never ask for your authentication code.