As a business, one of the pieces of information that you register with Companies House when you create your company is the registered office of the business. This doesn’t need to be the operational premises of the business or the home address of the business owner and can be an official address offered through a business running registered address services. In addition to the registered office, a business can also use a SAIL address. But what is this and why might it work for your business?
What is a SAIL address?
A SAIL address is a Single Alternative Inspection Location where a registered company or a LLP company can keep statutory records and ensure they are available for public inspection. A SAIL address isn’t compulsory whereas a registered office address is, and the two don’t need to be at the same place or share the same address. If you are going to use a SAIL address, then you need to notify Companies House of the details of this address. You cannot use a SAIL address unless you have informed Companies House.
A SAIL address differs from the registered office address in a number of ways. The registered office is the location where any statutory mail is delivered alongside any legal notices such as from HMRC or other government departments. This address is on display in the public register of companies and is accessible by anyone. Unless a SAIL address is used, then the registered address also needs to hold all of the statutory records of the business.
A SAIL address has to be in the UK for any business that is registered in the UK. It also needs to be within the same area of the UK as the business – this needs to be either England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. So for example you cannot have a SAIL address that is in Wales if you run your business in Scotland. SAIL addresses can be changed at any time as long as if follows these rules.
What are statutory records?
There are several documents that are classed as statutory records and need to be kept at the registered office or at the SAIL address. These include:
- Register of the company’s members such as shareholders or guarantors
- Register of the company’s directors
- Details of the director’s residential address
- Register of the company’s secretaries
- Register of the company’s debenture holders and people with significant control
- Register of the charges and instruments creating charges for the company
- Copies of any resolutions
- Minutes of any general meetings
As well as holding a complete set of the above documents, it is also worth keeping the Certificate of Incorporation issued by Companies House, copies of documents lodged at Companies House, the memorandum of association and the articles of association.
Limited companies are required to make and maintain statutory records and registers available for the public to view for a minimum of two hours every working day between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm. If someone wants to inspect these records, they must give notice at least two days before they visit in accordance with the rules set within the Companies (Company Records) Regulations 2008. Other situations require that they give at least 10 days’ notice. Businesses have an obligation to ensure these records are up to date at all times.
If your company fail to keep any of these records then your company as well as its listed officers could be charged. It is a criminal offence not to keep these records and the fines imposed could be anything from £1000-£5000, depending on the records missing, plus an extra charge of £100-£500 per day for any continued contravention.
Handling statutory mail
Even when you register a SAIL address with Companies House, they still send statutory mail to the registered office for the business. Therefore, if you want to use a SAIL address, then it pays to use a mail forwarding service and registered office address service pairing. This would allow statutory mail to be collected at the registered office and then forwarded to the SAIL address where it could then be made available for public inspection.
How to register a SAIL address
Companies House use an online form to register a SAIL address and provide them with the information that they required. The form is called AD02 and should be accompanied by form AD03 which ensures that they are aware that the statutory records will now be located at a new address. You can also make use of a company formation service that can include this information and relevant forms to advice Companies House of the SAIL address.
Form AD02 will require the details of the company, the address that will be used as the SAIL address and details of the person signing the form on behalf of the company. It can be posted to Companies House or completed online via the Webfiling system.
A SAIL address isn’t required for the successful running of a business but can make the subject of public access to statutory records much simpler and also mean that a business can separate daily functions from this requirement. It also allows for businesses to use a London address for their registered address even if they aren’t operating in the capital, adding prestige to the appearance of the business without the need for the public to visit the capital for a statutory query.