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UBO Registers in EU

Anonymity has been at stake since the introduction of the standards for automatic exchange of information. Thus popping up all over Europe UBO Registers are no longer a shock. Further transparency of the Beneficial Owners was imposed by the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. By this time almost all Member States have implemented their UBO Registers.

Broadly, the UBO is defined as the natural person who ultimately owns or controls, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the shares or voting rights (or in some countries exactly 25%), or controls the entity through other means. Trusts, foundation, non-profit organizations and other similar entities as well require the reporting of the persons who have ultimate control over the entity (settlers, trustees and beneficiaries).

In most of the Member states UBOs have to declare:

  • Name / Last name

  • Date of birth

  • Nationality

  • Country of residence

  • Nature of control in the company


In some Member States there are additional details to declare, as residential address.

Access to the information varies from country to country. Some Member States institutions grant full public access for a small fee. Others will allow only limited institutions (as banks, tax authorities, etc.) to have access to UBO’s files, but as well permitting access upon written request. However, the 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (of July 2018) enforces greater transparency of the UBOs. And we can expect that by 2020 there will not be a single EU Companies Register left without publicly viewable UBO files.

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