Last call for overseas entities that own UK property to register with Companies House

Last call for overseas entities that own UK property to register with Companies House

Overseas entities that acquired UK property before 1 August 2022 must register with Companies House by 31 January 2023 or run the risk of possible criminal sanctions, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO has warned.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 introduced a new legal requirement for overseas entities owning UK property to register at Companies House and provide details of their beneficial owners.

The rules apply to entities governed by law in a country outside the UK, so offshore companies, partnerships and foundations will need to comply.

The data must be verified by an agent regulated under the Money Laundering Regulations and criminal offences may be committed by those who fail to comply or who provide incorrect information. 

According to Land Registry data, 93,877 properties in England and Wales are currently owned through an overseas entity.

Individuals who want to protect their privacy often opt to hold UK property through an overseas company but keeping your name off Land Registry records comes at price: overseas companies must now pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) at 17% when buying UK residential property.

Dawn Register, Head of Tax Dispute Resolution at BDO said:

“These new registration obligations aren’t designed to block offshore companies from owning UK property. Indeed, such structures can be set up for entirely legitimate commercial or personal protection reasons.

“The rationale behind these changes is to increase transparency of ownership. The Government is conscious that the previous lack of transparency allowed those who wished to conceal their identify for other reasons - sometimes illicit ones - to invest in UK property. This is why part of the new registration process involves declaring the beneficial owners of the company to Companies House.

“Failure to register is a criminal offence, and the officers of the entity could face a fine and up to two years in jail - or five years in some extreme cases - if they do not comply. Similarly, failure of beneficial owners to supply information can also be a criminal offence under UK law so it’s important that affected parties take urgent action to comply.”

The register will be publicly available, and HMRC is likely to take a keen interest in the companies and individuals that appear.

For example, HMRC is likely to investigate if individuals living in property are UK resident for tax purposes. If they are UK tax resident, then UK tax may be due on their worldwide income. HMRC will be able to assess whether there were taxable ‘remittances’ (usually money transfers) to the UK by non-UK domiciled individuals. Questions about the source of funds to purchase property may also arise.  Overseas landlords will be taxable on UK rental income and HMRC will also want to check whether any Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) is due; this is generally payable on residential property with a value of more than £500,000.


Note to editors

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP provides integrated advice and solutions to help businesses navigate a changing world.

The organisations we work with are Britain’s economic engine –entrepreneurially-spirited, high-growth businesses that fuel the economy. 

We understand the ambitions and entrepreneurial mindset of those we work with and have the global reach, integrity and expertise to help people and businesses succeed. 


BDO LLP operates in 17 offices across the UK, employing 7000 people offering tax, audit and assurance, and a range of advisory services. BDO LLP is the UK member firm of the BDO international network.

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Frank Shepherd
BDO PR Manager
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