Back in March 2015, BIS published a discussion paper considering whether foreign companies that buy land or property in England and Wales should be obliged to keep a register of people with significant control, and the government has now produced a response on how this register will be implemented.

Overseas companies will need to consider the new registration by 2021, which is when the government intends to have the register in operation by, or risk being charged with a criminal offence for failing to register property owned in the UK.

The new registration requirement will capture all legal forms that can hold property. With regard to leasehold properties, the regime will apply to all leases of registrable duration as well as those with an original term exceeding 21 years. The government has also confirmed its intention to align the definition of a beneficial owner for the new overseas register to the PSC definition under the existing PSC regime.

Those overseas entities which already own UK property at the date of implementation of the new registration regime will be allowed a longer period than the proposed 12 months registration period to obtain a registration or sell the property.