15 November, 2023
Key Things to Know Before Using a Home Address for Business in the UK
One of the most important questions to answer when starting a business in the UK is where you’ll locate it. At face value, this may seem inconsequential. After all, starting a new business involves many complicated steps, like dealing with the commercial register, sorting legal procedures, choosing a business structure, establishing funding, and more.
On a whim, you may quickly choose your home address when faced with a business location registration requirement. However, using a home address for business in the UK is a bad business move for many reasons. For example, Companies House, the government-affiliated body for storing information on all limited companies and LLPs, makes all registered office addresses a matter of public record.
In this article, we’ll pick apart the most important things you should know before using a residential home address for business in the UK and why you shouldn’t. We’ll also explore pretty cool alternatives and their pluses and minuses. Let’s go.
Can I Register a Business at my Home Address?
Yes. Legally speaking, there’s no UK law that bans using a residential address for business. The ball of choosing where your business will operate is fully in your court — your home, a rented office, or a virtual workplace. Given the current work-from-home trend, many small businesses in the UK are tapping into its benefits, such as spending less time in the office, zero commute, reduced overhead, passing business registration easily, and more. So, this may warrant publishing your home address as a registered office on the ever-public Companies House.
Unfortunately, a PO box address isn’t a valid option, and it’s impossible to ask Companies House to remove your business’ registered company address, even if it’s your home address. This means that you risk breaching your privacy, plus your home address hardly gives your business a professional facelift. The implications of using a home address as a business address are way too many to balance the few benefits.
But did you know it’s possible to use a different address for your business while operating from home? Before we see how, let's dive into the disadvantages of using a home address for business and explore the UK official business registration requirements.
6 Main Disadvantages of Using Home Address for Business
Here are six reasons why you may want to explore available alternatives to using your home address as your official business address:
When you register a limited business with Companies House, it will be publicly logged on their register. The Companies House register can be used by the public to search for addresses online for free. The UK government recommends that you carefully consider what personal information you decide to register, especially because you cannot remove a registered address from the register. You can, however, change your registered business address later on.
If you register a business at your home address, it means everybody is welcome at your home – customers, business associates, begrudged buyers, scam artists, and even Companies House reps. Imagine enjoying lunch with your family, and then your doorbell rings with a phoney stranger at the other side of the door. This makes having a publicly available home address a downright awful idea.
3. Legal Requirements
As mentioned before, your registered address needs to be in the same country as your business. But what if your business is in England and your home address is in Scotland? The registered address won't be accepted, which would be quite a headache.
4. Unexpected Visitors and Cold Callers
HMRC representatives, clients, and cold callers can appear at a registered business address at any time. So, if you want to avoid people turning up unexpectedly at your private residence, it would be best not to register it as your business address.
If your business address makes it obvious that it's in a residential area, some potential clients might be put-off and feel that you lack professionalism. A home business address often comes with less credibility and authority — not through any fault of your own, but simply through bias. Conversely, by choosing a business address in an established area, you can showcase your business as a successful brand.
6. Mail Handling
Having your personal and business mail delivered to the same address can get confusing. You may end up with too much post to keep up with; having communications slip through the cracks is certainly not a professional look. Or, if you're using your home address for business taxes, you might end up with a hefty fine after an unpaid balance.
What Are the Official Requirements for a Registered Office in the UK?
As a new business owner, you need to have an understanding of the UK government's rules for company addresses. Is it even necessary for you to set one up?
If you're setting up a limited company, then yes, you need to register an office address with Companies House. However, it doesn't have to be part of an actual office building; home and PO boxes are both eligible for this purpose.
But what if you're setting up a different kind of company, like a sole trader? Then, it's only necessary to register a business address with the HMRC if you earn over £1,000 in one year. So, in some cases, startup owners might not have to register a self-employed business address — but it's best to plan ahead in case you exceed that monetary threshold.
Pro Tip: A sole trading company is owned and controlled by one person, while a limited company is legally separate from its owner.
If you need to register an address for your business, keep these UK requirements in mind. The address must be:
- A physical address.
- Located in the same country your business is registered in — in other words, if your company is registered in England, your office address must also be in England.
A PO box may be used as long as there is still a postcode and physical address included. And lastly, all written communication must be sent to your registered business address.
How to Choose the Best Type of Address to Use as a Registered Office
The reasons listed above are why many people advise against using your home address for business. If you aren't renting an office and are not keen on registering your home address, you still have other options! Here are some paths to consider:
- PO Box: By renting a PO box, you can use the post office's address to register your business and receive mail. You can rent a PO box outside the city you live in, so you can benefit from choosing a well-established business area. However, you'll have to actually go to the post office to pick up your business mail — or pay a hefty delivery fee. If that doesn't appeal to you, then move on to the PO box alternatives.
- Use Somebody Else's Address: This is recommended if you'd like to keep your address private. Of course, you'll have to get the other person's permission. Consider using the address of the person who is managing your corporation tax.
- Virtual Office Address: If heading to the post office for your PO box mail is too inconvenient, and you can't get permission to use somebody else's address, a great option would be to set up a virtual office address. With one of these, you can get a virtual office in a prime location for a reasonable price. Some companies like The Hoxton Mix even let you add on dedicated mail handling and pick-up, as well as same-day mail forwarding.
The Hoxton Mix Solution
Many business owners in the UK opt for virtual business addresses, as they offer the privacy of PO boxes but with more features and, often, at a lower price.
Take, for instance, The Hoxton Mix. You can set up your virtual office right away with no setup fees! If you were to register for a PO box through Royal Mail, it could take up to 7 working days, and a minimum of 3 months of payment is required up-front.
What's more, with The Hoxton Mix, you get so much more than mail holding and a dedicated virtual business address. We offer fully customisable plans, which all have great benefits:
- Mail handling pick-up: no handling fees
- Mail handling and forwarding: no postage fees
- Mail scanning and digital forwarding: get all your mail on the same day
- Scan Pro: get a hard copy in addition to the digital forward
You can even add on meeting room rentals and a London 020 number for a full office experience! Get a prime address for a virtual office in London and build your credibility with prospective clients. Plans start at just 41p per day, and you're not locked into a contract. Cancel safely at any time!
What's more, you won't have to register the address with Companies House yourself; we'll do it for you. At The Hoxton Mix, we're prepared to do whatever it takes to help your business succeed.
Need clarity on private limited companies? Check out Hoxton Mix's comprehensive overview of their advantages and disadvantages.
If you're starting a business in the UK, you'll likely need to register a business address — whether it's as a limited company with Companies House or as a sole trader through HMRC. While it's legal to use your home address for this purpose, it can diminish your privacy and look unprofessional. But via alternatives like renting a PO box or a virtual business address, you can have privacy and enjoy a registered address in a prime business location. If you'd like to set up a London virtual office with mail handling, get started today at The Hoxton Mix.
What are the disadvantages of using a home address for business?
A few of the many cons of using your home address for business registration in the UK include potential security breaches, zero professionalism, risk of physical harm, cold call harassment, and risk of losing it all to scammers.
Is it legal to use a home address for business registration?
The short answer is yes. You can register a company at a home address in the UK, provided you’re comfortable with the address being listed as a public record.
Is a virtual address better than a home address when registering my company address?
Using a virtual office address for your business registration eliminates downsides like privacy concerns while still maintaining the benefits. You can still work from home, save costs, be professional, and upscale as your brand grows.
Hand-picked related articles
Cheap Virtual Office Addresses in the UK: How to Find It and Avoid Overpaying for Needless Services
17 November, 2023