Summary: Information That Must Be Paid For Is Exempt Under the Freedom of Information Act
|Request sent to
|Companies House (Click here)
|Outcome of request
|Time taken to respond
|7 working days (Deadline is 20 working days)
|Reason for refusal
|No need to answer if info is already available.
On 17 February 2015, Access Info Europe requested access to the complete database of companies, as held by Companies House, using the online request platform “What do They Know?”
The response came in on 26 February 2015, which stated that access to the database needed to be refused because Information that is accessible in another way, even if it requires payment of a fee, is exempt under the Freedom of Information Act according to Section 21.
Since there is no constitutional recognition of the right of access to information in the UK, and given that there is a specific exception in the FOI law for this type of information, Access Info Europe has decided not to pursue this with an appeal.
To see the full correspondence, please click here:
The United Kingdom made a public commitment to publish its company register in open data format in mid-2014, following promises made at the G8 summit in Lough Erne in 2013 to improve corporate transparency. On 25 June 2015, Companies house became freely accessible to members of the public, with a programmers’ API that allows for bulk download of all the data contained in the register. Citizens can also create usernames and search through the database freely. The UK government will begin to collect and publish information about the beneficial owners of registered companies as of April 2016, and it is possible that information about shareholders will be published in the same way.
Accessing the UK Company Register
|Information available (for free)
|Registered office address, previous company names, company type, directors’ details, whether the company has been dissolved, when its accounts were filed or due, plus a historic overview of the documents filed by the company.
|Provision for public access
|You can search the register for free by using two filters: the company name, or the company number. A blank search is not possible.
For other documents, such as company accounts, annual returns and reports you need to subscribe as a user (registration is free), and then pay a specific price for each document requested.
For access to more information you need to open a Companies House Direct (CHD) account, which costs 4 GBP per month and 1 GBP per document requested. With this account you can gain paid access to all the historical company records, document packages, detailed mortgage information, and certified copies of online documents. You can also search by using an additional filter, which is the name of the company director.
|Cost per record
|Each document costs £1 but if you are not a registered user, there is an order limit of maximum £50.
For documents that require a CHD subscription, the cost of each document is £1 plus the monthly £4 subscription fee.
Document packages, which include more than one document, may cost up to a maximum of £4 per company.
|Cost for whole database
|It is not possible to buy bulk access.