Registered Office and Service Addresses – What is the difference?
Updated: Feb 7
Xtract Accounting, the small business Accountants for Directors and Limited Companies, looks to answer this often-asked question and explains their importance for small business owners.
In simplistic terms, a registered office address is the official location and correspondence address of a company registered with Companies House, the UK’s registrar of incorporated businesses. A service address is the official correspondence address for certain individuals linked to the company.
When is a registered office address required?
Again, to keep it simple, if you plan to operate a business other than a sole trader or partnership, you will need to register your business with Companies House. It is during this registration process that you will be required to declare a registered office address.
There are many types of business that require a registered office address, but the most common type for small businesses is a Private Company limited by shares.
Why is a registered office address needed?
From time to time, the government and Companies House will issue your company with important documents and letters. Your company therefore needs a reliable address, to ensure that you receive these communications.
The address will also be used if your business ever encounters any legal issues, and therefore ensuring you have ready access to incoming mail is essential.
Did you know?
Information about a company, including its registered office address records, remain on the Companies House public records for as long as the company is ‘live’, and for up to 20 years after it is dissolved.
Where must the registered office be located?
The registered office address must be a physical location capable of accepting mail, and in the same country in which the company is registered. So, if you registered your company in England and Wales, this is where your registered office address must also be – it cannot therefore be in Scotland, for example.
Does the registered office address have to be the same as the trading address?
No, it doesn’t - this is a common misunderstanding. As mentioned above, the registered office address must simply be a physical address capable of accepting mail. It does not have to be the same address as where your business is located and trades from.
Can a PO Box or Overseas address be used as a Registered Office?
No – again for the reasons mentioned above, but in case you missed it… the registered office address must be a physical location capable of accepting mail, and in the same country in which the company was registered in.
Can a registered office address also be a home address?
Yes, of course – but we strongly recommend against it!
To explain, the registered office address is shown on a public record held by Companies House. This public record can be viewed at any time using the Companies House online company lookup tool. Having this information publicly available presents a problem for those who operate small businesses from home – not only do you risk the loss of your privacy and security, but you will also likely be bombarded with junk mail.
Thankfully, there is a solution – our Registered Office Address service.
Did you know?
Whilst you can request to remove your home address from various forms kept on the public record (albeit for a small fee per instance), registered office address records cannot be removed. This means that if you use your home address as a registered office address, it will remain on the public record indefinitely. For more information, please visit the Companies House website.
Can a registered office address be changed?
Yes, absolutely. It is not unusual as businesses do move around, change in structure, or indeed are sold to a third party. For more information, please visit the Companies House website.
Where must the registered address be used and shown?
By law, you must include the registered office address and company number on all business stationery, contracts, and other important documents. For example:
Quotes and invoices,
Employee, supplier, or other contracts,
Emails you send, and
Letters you send.
The reason for this is to ensure that the recipient knows that the business is a registered company and to provide them with a way to contact the business for official purposes, should they need to (perhaps in the case of serving legal documents).
You must also clearly display your registered company name at your registered office address, unless that address is your home address, in which case you can apply an exemption.
Why is a service address needed?
Similarly to a registered office address, a service address allows third parties to send official correspondence to the connected individuals of the company. These might include Directors, Secretaries, Shareholders and Guarantors.
Like with a registered office address, a service address for each connected individual must be declared to Companies House at the point of registering the business.
Does a service address have to be the same as the registered office address?
It can be if you want it to be, but it doesn’t have to be.
Unlike the registered office address, the service address can be located anywhere in the world, but again, it must be a physical location capable of accepting mail.
Can a service address also be a home address?
Yes, of course – but again, we strongly recommend against it for the reasons highlighted above!
Can a service address be changed?
Yes, absolutely, as many times as you like. For more information, please visit the Companies House website.
Where must a service address be used and shown?
Like with the registered office address, a service address record is also held on the public record and can be viewed at any time using the Companies House online company lookup tool.
But unlike the registered office address, you are not required by law to show or display a service address anywhere else.
How can Xtract Accounting help?
Our Registered Office Address service is a fixed fee service for small businesses. We can register an alternative address for the company at Companies House so you can be sure that your home privacy and security will remain intact. At no extra charge, the same address can be used for your directors too, if you wish. We’ll even handle all official mail for both you and the company. So that’s one less thing to worry about.
Alternatively, if you are thinking of registering your company at Companies House, our all-inclusive Company Formation service is the perfect solution. For a fixed one-off fee, we’ll start by getting to know your personal circumstances and then use this knowledge and our expertise to recommend a tax efficient structure for your new company. Once you’ve given us the go ahead, we’ll do all the leg work so you don’t have to, and your new company will be established in next to no time. We’ll finish by issuing you with all of the completed statutory paperwork for the company, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is choosing a company name! We’ll even give you one years free access to the above Registered Office Address service – what better way to get your new business venture off the ground!
About the Author of this Blog post…
Hi, my name is Gordon Roe and I am the Founder and Managing Director of Xtract Accounting. Having worked in an accountancy practice setting for well over a decade, I had become accustomed to the same annual routine for clients - Books in… Analyse… Queries out… Answers in… Finalise… Accounts and Tax Advice out.
Then, in 2020 I realised I could use advancements in technology and software to significantly improve the relationship between accountant and client, and at the same time, provide an insightful and real-time tax advice service. After all, that is what the modern client expects and deserves!
And so, Xtract Accounting was born…
Xtract Accounting are online accountants based in Lincolnshire, who offer proactive small business accountancy services exclusively to Directors and Owner Managed, Micro and SME Limited Companies throughout the UK.
We specialise in helping Directors Xtract more out for the work they put in!
Our monthly 'FD' service with fixed monthly fees, sees us take on the more proactive role of Finance Director for your business, and offers a plethora of benefits including:
Inclusive accounting software provided by FreeAgent,
Your very own dedicated accountant,
Regular insights into how to maximise your tax efficient (or even tax free!) income,
Jargon-free telephone and email support,
Plus, much, much more!
With Xtract Accounting, you can be sure your accounts and tax will be kept up-to-date and organised.
Find out more about us or connect with us on Social Media (below)