Overseas companies – the new beneficial register to go live in early 2021
In April 2017, the Government published a proposal for a new beneficial ownership register of overseas companies that own UK property or participate in UK Government procurement. The Government consultation invited views on the design of the policy and evidence on the possible effects of the policy. The move is part of the Government’s drive towards greater transparency in real estate ownership, to minimise the risk of it being used to shield the proceeds of crime and to attract the right investors and owners.
Following this consultation, the Government have now announced the world's first public register, will go live by early 2021, that requires overseas companies that own or buy property in the country to provide details of their ultimate owners. The Government intend on publishing a draft bill this summer 2018 and will introduce it to Parliament by summer 2019.
The proposals made no distinction between commercial and residential transactions so are likely to affect all UK real estate owned or acquired by an overseas entity. However, the intention is that overseas entities will not be able to buy, sell, charge or grant a long lease of property in the UK unless they are registered in the new register.
Overseas investors will need to consider the structure of current and future property transactions and the effect of the disclosure of information on the register in addition to possible time limits that are likely to be detailed in the upcoming draft bill.