What is a company authentication code
A company authentication code is a 6-digit alphanumeric code sent to your business’s address after registration with Companies House. The code allows you to file documents and change company data through the Companies House online portal or a third party software. It is therefore important that the code is known by those who need it and kept secure otherwise.
Receiving your code
According to the government’s website, your company authentication code should arrive at your business’s registered address within 5 days of incorporation or requesting a reminder. Due to the sensitive nature of the code – anyone who has it could tamper with company data online – Companies House will only send it by post.
The time delay means that it’s crucial that the code is on hand at important times, such as when you want to file your accounts for the year. If you forget your code, Companies House will send a reminder, but there will still be a delay of up to 5 days. Because of this, Companies House recommends requesting the code or a reminder as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines.
While the code needs to be sent in the post, you can request a reminder online through the Companies House WebFiling portal. The sooner you request it, the better.
How to change your code
Changing your code is just as simple as requesting a reminder, as long as you have WebFiling access. Within the portal, navigate to the ‘company authentication’ section to make the change.
Your new code can be whatever you like, as long as it consists of 6 alphanumeric digits. You can change it to something more memorable (as long as it’s not going to be easy for an unauthorised person to guess).
As the code can be changed online and you’ll know what the new code is, you won’t have to wait the 5 days that you have to wait for other Companies House confirmations to arrive. That said, it’s advisable to change your code at a non-critical time so that any problems can be ironed out. You also need to remember to tell anyone who needs access to the code that it’s been changed.
As a side note, your company’s code can be changed without a request. Companies House will automatically change the code if mail sent to your registered address is returned undelivered multiple times or if an incorrect code is entered three times in a row. If this happens, follow the procedures outlined above to request a new code.
Why you should change your code
There are sometimes more pressing reasons to change the company authentication code than personal preference. If you suspect that someone who doesn’t have authorisation to know the code has learned it, it should be changed immediately. Or, if someone who was authorised to know it but now isn’t (such as an employee who leaves), you should change the code.
When it comes to your business’s finances, there’s no point taking a risk. If there’s even a slight chance that someone who doesn’t need to know the code does know it, change it. Having the code means that a person can access your files and tamper with business data. This is the reason why it’s important that nobody can guess your code, either.
As well as changing your code, it is essential that you contact the fraud team at Companies House as soon as possible if you believe that someone has access who shouldn’t. Serious damage could be done otherwise.