you may have started as a sole trader and the business may benefit from becoming limited or
you may want to start a new business as a limited company so that customers or clients have a degree of confidence in your business.
You will have researched on how to set up a company and once you have checked that you can use the company name for the business, one of the questions you may not have considered is
"What address do I use for the registered office?"
Firstly, you may not know what a registered office address is. It is simply the legal address of the company that Companies House and HMRC will have on their records, in fact Section 86 of the Companies Act 2006 states that “a company must at all times have a registered office which all communications and notices may be addressed”
This is something that you may not thought about and your response may well depend on your previous experience.
Just leave it up to the company formation agent and use one of their registered office addresses?
Frantically call your accountant to see if they offer a registered office address service?
Just put your home address down?
Search the internet for "registered office address" and look at the top three's prices.
To be honest there isn't a wrong or right choice it all depends on convenience, cost and risk.
It may be convenient to just use the formation agent or Accountants address.
But usually these can be the most expensive options. Some formation agents will include it in one of their packages, but the following year you may be in for a surprise when you get the invoice and if you wish to move the address, although this a very simple process online at Companies House, you then have to change the website and company stationery. The same applies for using your accountant - if you wish to change your accountant in the future - you then also have to change your registered office address details as before, so make sure that the prices are not considerably hiked up after the 1st year.
Can I use my home address?
This is the cheapest option and simple to do, there is no requirement to provide identification or to get approval from the family. (unless of course you live with your parents). BUT, you will be putting your home address on a publically available website for anyone to access. It means that your suppliers and customers can turn up unannounced to deal with company business, and you may not particularly want them knocking on your door. You will be compromising the confidentiality of yourself and your family plus there is a consideration of how professional this may appear to your clients.
If you live in rented accommodation there is usually a clause in the contract to say that you cannot use the address for a business, so this prevents you from registering your business at the address.
Searching the internet is a very quick and effective means of wading through the hundreds of different registered office service providers. But just because they are on page 1 of a search engine does not necessarily mean they provide the best service, value for money and reliability. For many, the registered office service and mail forwarding services are just an "add on" service - they may also be primarily formation agents or accountants, virtual assistants or business centres.
Things you should consider are:
How quickly can they set up your registered office address service? Beware of providers that just take your money without checking who you are first. It is a legal requirement for all registered office and mailbox providers to be registered with HMRC under the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR), and they should be asking for identification of you and the Directors and proof of address. They should have a MLR number and certificate.
Does the company actually own the premises they are trading from. This is important because of the implications for you and your business if the company providing the registered office address gets into financial trouble or the offices they are renting are no longer available.
Are you paying for a premium registered office address? If you want to give the impression you are based in Mayfair or in the City of London then you may find that the prices are considerably higher. If your business is targeting the whole UK or overseas, the actual registered office address may not necessarily be that important to your business. You may just want a local registered office address provider just around the corner where you can pick up your mail or have your mail forwarded.
Do they forward your registered office mail on the same day – some registered office service providers send your mail weekly or not at all!!
Are they flexible enough to be able to scan all your mail, or perhaps the one important item you were expecting? Are they prepared to do that little bit extra for you and your business?
Do they charge for changing the forwarding address?
Do they repackage it into a new envelope and forward it – some registered office service providers just stick a new label on the front and put it back in the post. There isn’t a guarantee that these will arrive on time or at all. Do they record what mail they have sent out and when it was sent?
Do they charge for forwarding your official mail from Companies House and HMRC. Many providers charge extra for posting your mail on, so check that the headline price advertised actually includes the forwarding of mail. Many providers now just scan and email your post. Make sure you find a provider that will offer you the choice.
Is the address manned throughout the day and can you actually speak to someone on the phone or via email if you have a query?
How quickly do they respond to your enquiry and are they knowledgeable.
Renewal of your registered office address service at the end of a year – some companies automatically renew your service every year – the idea is to save you time. But, what if you don’t want to renew, have they left you enough time to find an alternative. We find it is always best to notify our clients around a month in advance, they can then make their own minds up with plenty of time should they wish to cancel their services with us.
For many, it is just an address so you can receive your mail from Companies House and HMRC, but if you spend the time to get the right registered office address provider upfront this will ensure that you get all the important mail and you will be with them for many years.
You may also want to use the same address for your day to day business mail, most providers will offer this service, but accountants rarely do or will charge a large fee. Business address services can be added onto the registered address service either at the start for an all-mail package or accounts can be upgraded to include the business mail forwarding when you need it.
If you have any questions about our virtual offices or want to discuss your options please do not hesitate to contact us.