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The long-awaited Registration of Overseas Entities Draft Bill has finally been published. Even though it is unlikely to come into effect before 2021, there could be a few things to do to prepare – and there are severe sanctions for non-compliance.
What is the Registration of Overseas Entities Draft Bill?
In March 2016, the Government published a paper outlining intentions of enhancing transparency for overseas companies wishing to own land in the UK. The Bill, which was published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), requires those overseas entities wishing to buy land in the UK to name any beneficial owners in a public register. This will apply to overseas companies that buy land or property in the UK or enter into public procurement contracts in the UK.
It is hoped the Bill will create a new framework for all eligible overseas entities to apply for registration. In this context, any “overseas entity” is a body corporate, partnership or other formation that is a legal person governed by the law of a country or territory outside of the UK.
Any application will require the overseas entity to provide information about itself and its beneficial owners. Once registered, an overseas entity will need to keep that information up to date. Plus the entity will also be required to make that information available to the public. For non-compliance, entity owners can face up to five years in prison and unlimited fines.
It is unclear whether registration of the entity will apply to all beneficial owners of overseas entities buying land in the UK. It is also unclear at the moment as to whether this will apply retrospectively.
We will publish updates as and when more information becomes available. However, if you think you may be affected by the Bill, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.