In a bid to crack down on money laundering and improve transparency, the Economic Crime Act 2022 introduced a new Register of Overseas Entities. This came into force on 1st August 2022. Those who do not comply will face severe sanctions, including restrictions on buying, selling, transferring, leasing or charging their land or property in the UK. As a result, overseas entities that own land or property in the UK must declare their beneficial owners and/or managing officers.
Lisa’s Law is one of a select group of UK-regulated agents who can complete verification checks on beneficial owners of an overseas entity. You can view the full list, including Lisa’s Law, here.
Why do I have to register with Companies House?
Before overseas companies can be registered with Companies House, which maintains an online register of companies, a UK-regulated agent must complete verification checks on all beneficial owners and managing officers. Overseas entities are defined in Section 2 of the Act as any legal entity that is governed by the law of a country or territory outside the UK. The Republic of Ireland is classified as an overseas jurisdiction for the Register of Overseas Entities.
In addition to this, the changes will also affect overseas entities who already own or lease land or property in the UK. Such companies must register with Companies House and tell them who their registrable beneficial owners or managing officers are by the end of this month (January 2023). This will only apply to overseas entities who bought property or land on or after:
- 1st January 1999 in England and Wales
- 8th December 2014 in Scotland
Furthermore, entities that disposed or property or land after 28th February 2022 will need to give details of these dispositions.
Once you have registered with Companies House, as an overseas entity you will receive a unique Overseas Entity ID. You will be able to use this to give to the land registry when you buy, sell, transfer, lease or charge for UK property or land. The aim of this is to create more transparency, allowing law enforcement agencies to investigate suspicious wealth more effectively.
How to register as an overseas entity
To register as an overseas entity you must do the following:
- Sign in or create a Companies House account
- Provide the name and email address of the person who can be contacted about the application
- Give information about the overseas entities and its beneficial owners or managing officers
- Tell Companies House about the UK-regulated agent that completed verification checks (us if we complete it on your behalf)
- Pay the £100 registration fee using a credit or debit card
When and if the application is accepted, the overseas entity as well the beneficial owners/managing officers will be added to the Register of Overseas Entities.
Please note that as of 12th January 2023, failure to comply could mean getting a fine, a prison sentence, or both. You would also face restrictions when buying, selling, transferring, leasing or charging property or land in the UK.
As a select group of agents who are able to carry out verification checks on beneficial owners of an overseas entity, Lisa’s Law can help to assist your business with these matters. Prior acquiescence towards the anonymity of foreign owners ends with the arrival of the register of overseas entities. Ultimately, its aim is to make it more difficult for foreign criminals to launder money through UK property. If you would like our help with these verification checks, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the methods below.
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