This guide explains what the public record is, what details you need to give us and how this information is accessed by the public.
For further information on how we handle your personal data, read our privacy notice.
What is the public record?
Companies House is the registry for all UK limited companies. In return for the benefits of limited liability, a company must be open and transparent about certain aspects of its affairs. When a company is set up, or ‘incorporated’, we review and register certain information about the company and make it available to the public.
This collection of public information is commonly known as the ‘public record’, and is available online for the public to search free of charge.
A company must send us information about its activities, annual accounts and who controls it. It must also give details of the directors, who are responsible for running the company. During its lifetime, a company is expected to keep these details up to date.
It’s important that the information on the public record is kept up to date, so that it’s useful to anybody looking at a company’s records, including those wanting to do business with the company. Anybody becoming a director or officer of a company must be prepared to have certain details placed on the public record.
What information we make public
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 (service) address for the public record, and a home (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 record 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 a director chooses to use their home address as their service address or the company's registered office address, it will appear on the public record.
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, changes to the Companies Act mean that only the month and year from the date of birth will now be publicly available.
We only disclose the full date of birth if required by law, such as, to credit reference agencies or to 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.
When a secretary is appointed, they do not have to give us their home address or date of birth. A secretary only has to file a service address for the public record, 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 your home address as a correspondence address, this will be available on the public record.
People with significant control (PSC)
PSCs must give the same personal information as directors for the public record, plus details of how they control the company. All PSC information is available to the public, apart from their home address and the day of date of birth.
If a PSC chooses to use their home address as their correspondence address, it will appear on the public record.
You can find more information about PSCs in our guidance.
How the public can access information
There are a number of ways to find company information on the public record. The services we offer are:
- Companies House Service (CHS)
- contact centre
- information centres
- DVD products
- Data products
More information about our services can be found 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. More information about this can be found in our privacy notice.
Other organisations have the right to make copies of any information available on the public record. 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, please 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 individuals such as 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 record for the lifetime of the company. As long as the company is active, this information will be available to the public. This includes details of all resigned officers and also applies to dormant companies.
Once a company is dissolved, this information remains on the public record 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 by paying to use our other search services.
How to protect your home address
You do not need to use your home address as your correspondence address, or your company’s registered office address. If you run your company from your home and do not want your home address made public, then you’ll need to consider using a different address for each of these.
If you only have this address to offer, there are third-parties who can provide registered office services. You can find a list of service providers and agents on our website.
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 it in place before you incorporate your company. You cannot remove a registered office address 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, please contact the organisation directly.
Asking to remove your home address
There are new laws to help you protect your home address on the public record, or remove it from publicly available documents.
If you’ve used your home address as a correspondence address on public documents such as an appointment form, you can ask us to remove it. You’ll need to know which documents contain your home address. Check this by finding your company on the Companies House register.
It costs £55 for each document you want to amend. Request an application form by emailing email@example.com.
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 your home address.
Withhold your address from credit reference agencies
In certain circumstances, you may be able to restrict the disclosure of your home address to credit reference agencies. You can only do this if you’re at risk of violence or intimidation because of your company’s work. 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 record.
More information on protection of PSCs can be found in our guidance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and do not open any attachments or disclose personal information. We’ll never ask for your authentication code.