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Companies House plans digital ID verification

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Companies House is developing a new digital identity verification process to prevent people registering companies for illegal purposes.

Chief executive Louise Smyth referred to the plan in a blogpost, published to coincide with the release of the agency’s corporate plan for 2022-23, saying that anyone setting up, running, owning or controlling a company in the UK will need to provide assurance they are who they claim to be.

A spokesperson for Companies House said an individual will have to verify their identity, either directly or through an agent, by linking themselves with an authorised photo ID.

They will take photographs of their face and the photo ID, which will then be compared with likeness matching technology as a validation. If successful, the person will then be notified within minutes.

“Companies House are in the process of transforming their systems to roll out identity verification,” the spokesperson said.

“Those who already manage, own or control companies or other UK registered entities will have a transition period to familiarise themselves with the requirements before having to have their identity verified.”

Alternatives and assistance

He added that alternative methods will be available for individuals without photo ID, and digitally assisted identity verification will be available for users who cannot use the digital identity verification system.

This is part of a wider programme of reform under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which is currently being finalised by the government.

The corporate plan reiterates the organisation’s efforts to become a fully digital organisation through initiatives such as developing a service for insolvency transactions and a new online journey for company directors to be appointed, terminated and changed.

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