Are you a company based outside the UK and own a property or land in the UK?

You need to register with the Register of Overseas Entities

If you have a company based outside the UK but own property in the UK, you do need to consider the need of registration with the Register of Overseas Entities. This registration is compulsory and failing to register, could attract fines, prison sentences or both.

There have been many changes in legislation in the UK in the last couple of years, in particular following the Brexit referendum and the subsequent of the UK from the EU.

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2002 (the ‘Act’) is a new piece of legislation which aims to bring more transparency and assist with the investigation of assets for enforcement purposes. With this in mind, a new Register of Overseas Entities was created on 1 August 2022. The Register is held by Companies House and all Overseas Entities who would like to buy, sell or transfer property or land in the UK, must register with them and provide information about their beneficial owners or managing officers.

The obligation to register those details will apply retrospectively if the Overseas Entity bought property or land in England and Wales on or after 1 January 1999, in Scotland on or after 8 December 2014 or in Northern Ireland on or after 1 August 2022.

The registration will need to be done by 31 January 2023.

However, please bear in mind that there is also a requirement to register if the Overseas Entity sold property or land after 28 February 2022.

Before registration, there is the need to carry out verification checks on all beneficial owners and managing officers. This can be done by a UK-regulated agent who must complete the verification checks. It is not a simple task, I am afraid, and could be costly too.

Once the registration takes place, the Overseas Entity will receive an ID number which they will need to provide to the Land Registry in the UK when it buys, sells, transfers, leases or charges UK property or land.

It is important to note that the Act indicates that if registration is not complied with, the Overseas Entity could get a fine, prison sentence or both. They will also face restrictions when buying, selling, transferring, leasing or charging property or land in the UK.

If you are a Company based outside the UK and need assistance with registration or with your dealings in the UK, please do not hesitate to contact Carmen Calvo of Cognitive Law on +44 (0)1273 284 120.