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The new Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill received royal assent on 15 March and became an Act.

Under the Act, a new Register of Overseas Entities will be created and held by Companies House. This new Act forms part of the government’s strategy to combat economic crime, while making sure that legitimate businesses continue to see the UK as a great place to invest.

The new register will require overseas entities that own UK land to declare their beneficial owners or managing officers. Overseas entities will not be able to buy, sell, transfer or lease land, or create a charge against the land in the UK unless they’ve registered with Companies House.

Overseas entities who already own land in the UK will be given 6 months to register their beneficial owners or managing officers. This 6 month period will not begin until the new register has been launched. Any new purchasers will need to register with Companies House from the day the register comes into effect.

Once the overseas entity has registered and provided all the necessary information, an overseas entity ID will be provided by Companies House. This ID will then need to be shared with the relevant land registry (depending on where the land is situated in the UK) whenever the overseas entity buys, sells, transfers, leases or charges land in the UK. The overseas entity will need to update its information every year.

After registering, the name of the overseas entity and its beneficial owners will be publicly available on the Find and update company information service.

Overseas entities who do not register will face severe sanctions such as daily fines and not being able to transact with their land.

The Act will apply to land bought since January 1999 in England and Wales, since December 2014 in Scotland, and to land bought from the day the Act comes into force in Northern Ireland. Companies incorporated in the Republic of Ireland fall under the definition of an overseas entity.

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