Companies House new identity verification process￼
In recent years there have been lots of advancements in identity verification, including the use of biometrics. This is the use of unique physical characteristics to identify someone, like fingerprints, facial recognition, or even iris scanning. Despite these tech advancements, identity fraud in the UK is growing. This article will outline the new verification process that comes as part of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act.
Companies House has highlighted reforms to identity verification which result from new legislation that had just received Royal Assent. Royal assent is the final step required for a parliamentary bill to become law.
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill introduces new measures that include:
- introducing identity verification for all new and existing registered company directors, people with significant control, and those who file on behalf of companies
- broadening the registrar’s powers so that it can become a more active gatekeeper over company creation and a custodian of more reliable data
- improving the financial information on the register so that the register is more reliable and accurate
- providing Companies House with more effective investigation and enforcement powers
- introducing better cross-checking of data with other public and private sector bodies
- enhancing the protection of personal information provided to Companies House.
How identity verification will work at Companies House:
There will be 2 routes to choose from and both will achieve the same level of identity assurance. You’ll be able to verify directly with Companies House or through an Authorised Corporate Service Provider (ACSP).
- Verifying directly with Companies House will mainly be via a digital service that links a person with their primary identity document, such as a passport or driving licence. Alternative methods will be available for those who cannot use or access the digital service.
- The ACSP route will involve using an intermediary such as an accountant, legal adviser, or company formation agent. To become or act as an ACSP, the intermediary must be registered with a supervisory body for anti-money laundering (AML) purposes and already have an existing duty to carry out customer due diligence checks on all of their clients. Identity verification will simply build on these existing checks.
ACSPs will need to register with Companies House, confirming their own AML supervised status, before they’re able to form new companies or file company information. They’ll also be required to declare that they’ve completed all the necessary identity verification checks on their clients before any filings can be made.
Once complete, your verified status will be held by Companies House for all future filings. There may be some instances where re-verification is needed, for example if someone changes their name.
There will be consequences for people who do not comply with the identity verification requirements in the form of both criminal sanctions and civil penalties. The Companies House register will also be annotated to reflect where someone has an unverified status, using our delegated powers of annotation, which will also be introduced when the ECCT Bill becomes law.
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New changes to UK company law are being brought in by virtue of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (“ECCTA”). The aim of these changes is to tackle economic crime and improve transparency. Companies House has stated that its fees will increase to reflect its new functions and powers under the ECCTA. The measures are being brought in at different stages and dates.
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