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What is a SAIL (Single Alternative Inspection Location) address?

What is a SAIL (Single Alternative Inspection Location) address? - amy-hirschi-K0c8ko3e6AA-unsplash-scaled

A SAIL address, or Single Alternative Inspection Location, is the physical address where a UK company or LLP can store their statutory company registers, ready for public inspection. 

Having come into effect on 1st October 2009, The Companies (Company Records) Regulations 2008 set the legislation surrounding SAIL addresses and how they can be successfully utilised by businesses. Since then, many companies have registered their own SAIL address – especially by businesses with a virtual office

But why would a remote business benefit from a SAIL address and what are the legal requirements that you need to be aware of before setting one up? Keep reading and we’ll explain the key facts you need to know about Single Alternative Inspection Locations.


What is the difference between a SAIL and registered office address?

A registered office address is a legal requirement for UK Limited Businesses. This is the address which is on full display to the public (listed within the public register of companies) and is the primary address which is used by government departments to send mail. 

Usually, statutory records and registers must be held at the registered office and made available for public inspection when required. This can be disruptive to day-to-day business or even impossible, if the registered address is a virtual office and not a physical location.

Companies can decide to register a Single Alternative Inspection Location address, which is not mandatory, but acts as an alternative location to store statutory records for inspection.


Are SAIL addresses legally required?

No, it is not a legal requirement to hold a SAIL address. Many businesses choose to set one up due to convenience – especially if their registered business address is their home or a virtual office. This can help to minimise any disruption of a public inspection in the registered office or within the director’s home.  


What are the legal requirements of a SAIL address?

While SAIL addresses are not legally required for UK businesses, there are still a set of legal requirements that must be followed for an address to be valid. 

  • A SAIL address must be a physical location and postal address – meaning it cannot be a virtual office or PO box
  • A limited company can only hold a maximum of one SAIL address
  • Records must be kept at only one address, not held between both SAIL and registered addresses
  • The SAIL address must be within the same region as the company’s registered address
  • Companies House must be informed if a business sets up a SAIL address
  • Companies House must be informed of any changes to the location of statutory records or to the SAIL address itself


If an individual wants to publicly inspect a company’s statutory records, a written request must be submitted to the business. This request should include a date and time for the requested visit, which the company has 5 days to respond to, confirming or denying the request. 


If the request is accepted, the company must make the records available for a minimum of two hours on the date requested. 

If the request is denied, the company must seek permission from the court to refuse the request.


What statutory records should be held?

There are a number of statutory records which must be held at the SAIL address and made available for inspection. These can be physical or digital copies, however it may be beneficial to keep digital copies in case of a fire or unforeseen damage.


The statutory records are as follows:

  • Register of people with significant control
  • Historic register of people with significant control
  • Register of members
  • Historic register of members
  • Register of directors
  • Register of directors’ residential addresses
  • Register of secretaries
  • Register of charges

You can find the full list of company records required for inspection on the government website. 


Non-statutory records

The following list shows examples of records which do not need to be made available for inspection. However, they are still incredibly important and keeping them stored safely could reduce any risk of missing documents when called for inspection. 


  • Register of directors’ interests
  • Register of share transfers
  • Company resolution records and minutes of general meetings
  • Register of share allotments
  • Directors’ indemnities
  • Register of sealings


How to register a SAIL address

As we’ve mentioned earlier, you must inform Companies House of your intention to create a SAIL address. This is so that anyone wishing to inspect your records knows where to visit. 

To do this, you need to submit an AD02 form to let Companies House know you are creating a new SAIL address in addition to your registered business address. You’ll only need the following information:

  • Company name
  • Company registration number
  • The SAIL address


Remember: a Single Alternative Inspection Location address must be set up in the same region as your registered business address.

You’ll then need to complete an AD03 form to explain which records will be moved over. This form can also be used if records are moved to a different location in the future.


Possible fines and penalties

If the legal requirements for statutory records are not met, both the company and it’s listed directors are liable. This includes missing records, records which are not kept up to date and records not made available for inspection when fairly requested.

A fine of up to £5,000 could be imposed, with an additional charge of up to £500 per day for continued violation. 


How to handle statutory mail

In an ideal world, when you register a SAIL address with Companies House, statutory mail would be sent directly to this address ready for filing. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Statutory mail is sent to your registered business address.

To streamline the process and ensure the relevant mail, records and documents reach the SAIL address, ready for public inspection, businesses can use mail forwarding services. This ensures companies will meet the legal statutory requirements and documents will not be accidentally held between two addresses.

At Virtual HQ, customers who make use of our virtual offices across the UK can also benefit from mail forwarding services. This gives businesses the ability to enjoy the benefits of a virtual office while remaining confident that important statutory mail will be delivered safely to their SAIL address. 

If you’d like more information surrounding our virtual offices or mail forwarding services, get in touch online or call our friendly team on 03302 232605.

Francesca's knowledge of the industry and business support is second to none. She's personally handpicked each one of our virtual office locations.

Francesca Dixon
Francesca Dixon

Sales & Operations Director

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