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Virtual Offices and Registered Address Use

Virtual Headquarters take compliance very seriously.

What is a Registered Address?

A Registered Address is your business’s official correspondence address, where important mail from Companies House and HMRC are sent. The address is legally required for the formation of a UK company, and throughout its existence. It will be publicly available, and should also be displayed on your website & invoices.

Your registered office is usually where your company’s documents and registers are also stored for inspection, unless you’ve selected a SAIL address for this purpose.Watch this video to find out more.

Does my business need a Registered Address?

A Registered Address is a legal requirement for all UK-formed companies, outlined in the Companies Act 2006. It should be the best place for your business and Directors to receive important letters. This is for corporate transparency; business owners need to be able to be held accountable for the running of their business.

Ensuring compliance with legal requirements is paramount. If you’re setting up your own business, make sure you’re clued up with what the law requires of you. You can check the gov.uk website for your specific structure.

What is the difference between a business trading address and a registered address?

Whilst your registered address is your publicly listed legal correspondence address, your business address differs as there are no legal obligations attached to it. It serves as the address from which your business principally operates, but it doesn’t have to be public information or necessarily restricted to one location.

Your trading address may appear on your business stationary, website, and for your general business contacts. Think of it as your company’s day-to-day living space. Your trading address therefore doesn’t need to match your registered office, it can be situated anywhere of your choosing. However, it is crucial to ensure compliance with all relevant local laws.

Choosing your Registered Address

There are requirements for your registered address: the address must be a real, physical location in the same country that your company is registered in.  This means, for instance, a company registered in England must have its registered office situated in England, rather than just any part of the UK.

Virtual HQ offers the full package – our addresses can be utilised for trading and registered purposes. We have offices throughout the UK, with locations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All of our addresses are real, physical buildings with manned receptions, so there is no doubt whether they fit the bill! We also offer multi-site packages, so if you trade in more than one location around the UK, we’ve got you covered!

Can I use a PO box as my registered office?

The law requires your registered office to be a verifiable physical address, so this usually means that you cannot use a PO Box address as your registered address. A PO Box can only be used if you also provide the full address of the physical building, including the building number and postcode.

Why Virtual Office providers cannot sell Registered Address as a standalone service

Your registered office is a public address where you must be able to receive all communication, official or not. Using a registered address-only mail service means only mail from Companies House/HMRC would be forwarded, and all other mail discarded. This is an offence – if a customer tried to contact you via your registered address, you wouldn’t receive it.

We understand the allure of the lowest-cost virtual office solution possible. However, it’s crucial that when you’re cutting costs, you’re not cutting legal corners! Selecting your virtual office provider based on cost alone ignores the importance of maintaining your business reputation. Let’s delve a little deeper into this…

Registered Address use: An add-on service to your Virtual Office

Our standard package includes the use of the virtual office address for trading and marketing (non-statutory) purposes only – your website, stationary, GMB profile, invoices, marketing material etc. Not all businesses will require the use of the selected virtual office address for their Registered Address too. This may be due to their business not falling within the scope of the Companies Act, or just due to preference.

If purchasing the Registered Address add-on, this would also permit the virtual office address to be used for official purposes, including registration on Companies House, and with HMRC.

While the allure of just purchasing the registered address use alone may be enticing, we simply cannot offer this as a standalone service. If we did, this would mean that you would only be forwarded official mail relating to Companies House or HMRC registration, and all other mail would be discarded. As your registered office needs to be a public address where you can receive ALL communication, official or not, any service which filters your mail would be illegal.

The Government stresses and highlights the following:

“You may be breaking the law if you choose to receive only some of the mail sent to your company (for example, by using a service which stops junk mail).” Click here to check the rules for company addresses.

London Trading Standards further expresses the importance in this clear statement:

Companies choosing to only be sent official government mail are in breach of professional diligence provisions in unfair trading regulations. Such a breach is a criminal offence for which Directors and other company officers could be fined or imprisoned. Any Trust and Company Service Providers facilitating this practice could also be committing offences.” Click here to read the full bulletin

The advice can be summarised as follows:

– Any limited liability company that uses a registered office address through the services provided by a Trust and Company Service Provider and which knowingly agrees that it will only ever be sent “official Government mail” will commit a criminal offence. This will be an offence under Regulation 8(1) of The Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which relates to contravening the requirements of professional diligence.

– Any Trust and Company Service Provider that allows a client to act in the way described in the bullet point above may also commit a criminal offence by aiding and abetting this activity.

To avoid legal repercussions it is therefore imperative when using a virtual office service for the purposes of your Registered Address that the provider forwards all of your mail to you.  

That is not to say when purchasing a virtual office address you have to then display the address as your trading and marketing address too – of course, you can just use the address on Companies House and that’s all. The important part is that your agreement with the provider isn’t just for some mail to be forwarded, and this means permission to use just for your registered address isn’t sufficient.

While we acknowledge the appeal of a cheap registered address, our unwavering commitment to legality, efficiency, and your convenience necessitates our offering of the complete package.

Let us guide you through the process

Virtual Headquarters take compliance very seriously.

Got questions? Get in touch with our friendly team.

At Virtual Headquarters we carry out thorough AML checks.

Virtual Headquarters are here to guide you.

SAIL address

Make sure you are following the law!

Can other providers offer me just a Registered Address?

You may have seen other virtual office providers offering extravagant promises at an exceptionally low price, but it is essential to reiterate that such arrangements are illegal. By choosing to engage in such an arrangement, you not only become complicit but fully accountable and legally responsible – subjecting your business to potential legal and financial risks.

Do your research! It is strongly advisable to avoid involvement in these questionable practices, upholding the integrity of your business and ensuring strict adherence to the law. Place your trust in reputable providers who offer a legitimate service, even if it necessitates a slightly higher expenditure. The peace of mind that comes with this choice, along with the avoidance of legal entanglements, far outweighs any initial cost.

In summary

When it comes to choosing your business address, remember that a registered address is not just a formality; it’s a legal requirement, and it must be genuine. Your service provider should handle all incoming mail, leaving nothing discarded. Opting for a low-cost option might seem like a quick win, but it could lead to long-term losses! Secure your company’s future success by investing in a premium solution with Virtual HQ.

Alexandra handles all things marketing here at Virtual HQ

Alexandra O'Hagan

Marketing Executive

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