In this blog we discuss the pros and cons of using professional address services, something that is becoming increasingly popular due to privacy concerns.
The process of forming a limited company requires several addresses to be submitted, some of which will then appear on public record.
Companies without commercial office premises will sometimes use the home address of directors, but this comes with privacy issues. However, professional address services can provide a solution to businesses which don’t have a dedicated commercial office.
What are professional address services?
A professional address service is where a third party, e.g. a company formations agent such as QCF (Quality Company Formations) provides a valid geographical address for use by a company or its directors.
The provider of the professional address service will provide a range of services which will allow the company or directors to use the address for official and/or business purposes. Additionally, they will forward all mail received at the address by Royal Mail post or digitally by scan and email.
What are the advantages of using professional address services?
There are several good reasons for using professional address services:
- Privacy: Companies without commercial office premises, which would otherwise need to use the home addresses of directors or shareholders, can ensure these are kept private by using a professional address service.
- Professionalism: Using a home address often imparts a less professional image of your business, particularly if it contains a flat number and is located in a residential part of town. Using a professional address service within a commercial district can enhance the image of your company and make a better first impression.
- Compliance: It is a legal requirement to provide a registered office address, and service addresses for company directors and PSCs.
- Consistency: Even if you do have commercial office premises, if you move to a new location the address will need to be updated on Companies House, your website, email footers and any business stationary. Updating addresses can be costly, both in terms of time and money. Using a professional address service means that you don’t need to worry about updating the address, no matter how many times you move office.
- Cost: Using professional address services is much cheaper than renting commercial office premises. And if your business uses flexible or co-working office services, they may charge a lot more to use their own address for business purposes compared to professional address service providers.
What are the disadvantages of using professional address services?
There are not many reasons against using professional address services, but a few occasions where you may need to consider if it is the right option for you include:
- Keeping it local: In some cases the address service provider’s location simply won’t be appropriate for a local business. For example, if you hold yourself out as a Cornish business geared towards locals in Truro, using a London address on stationary will run counter to the image of a local business.
- Accountants: Some accountants will allow their clients to use their address free of charge. However, this will generally only be valid for as long as your company remains a client.
- Lack of exclusivity: Since multiple businesses use the same professional address, it is relatively easy for customers to discover that you are using a professional address service.
What sort of professional address services are available?
QCF offers the following types of professional address services for limited companies and their directors:
Companies which do not have a commercial office can use our registered office address service. For an annual fee of £39.00 plus VAT, companies get a central London, Covent Garden address which they can use as their own registered office address.
This address can be used to register the company and for all official documents and correspondence. We will scan and email all official government mail to you on the same day we receive it – free of charge.
Company directors who would otherwise need to use their home address as their official correspondence address, can use our service address offering. For an annual fee of £26.00 plus VAT, company directors are provided with a central London service address.
This can be used as the director’s statutory correspondence address for the receipt of official government mail. We will scan and email all official government mail to you, free of charge.
Company secretaries, members of LLPs, subscribers (i.e. first shareholders or guarantors who become members during the company registration process) and People with Significant Control (PSCs) can also use the correspondence address service.
Companies which need an address for all their general business correspondence can use our business address service. For an annual fee of £96.00 plus VAT, your business gets a central London address which you can use as your primary correspondence address*.
We will forward all your business mail received at this address to an alternative address of your choosing, on a daily basis.
* This is separate from our registered office address or service address offerings, which need to be purchased separately.
What addresses must be submitted when forming a company?
Registered office address
This is the official address of a limited company. It is required for purposes of registering the company with Companies House. The registered office address should be used in any official documents and correspondence. It must also be displayed on all company stationery, emails and websites.
A registered office address can be the home address of a company director, but it is published on the public register of companies and is therefore viewable by the general public. A home address which was initially submitted as the registered office address cannot be removed from the public register.
Directors’ correspondence address
All company directors are required to provide a correspondence address, also known as a ‘service address’ (or a ‘directors’ services address), to Companies House. This is regulated by the Companies Act 2006.
Although a correspondence address can be the home address of a company director, it is also stored on the public register of companies, as with the registered office address. However, it is possible to change this address on the register at a later date.
Directors’ home address
All company directors are required to provide their full home address, also known as their ‘usual residential address’, to Companies House.
Home addresses of directors are stored on a private register and are therefore not viewable by the general public.
Companies can choose to use a single alternative inspection location (SAIL) address in addition to a registered office address.
A SAIL address allows a company to use a separate address to their registered office address for purposes of public inspection of statutory records. SAIL addresses are on the public register and cannot be removed.
For further information on the different types of company addresses and company address services, check out our Address Services Guide. If you have any questions on the content of this blog or on address services generally, please leave a comment below and we will get straight back to you!