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Companies' House Free Company Data

At Companies' House provides a downloadable data snapshot containing basic company data of live companies on its register.

Unfortunately, apart from saying that it's "Free" (presumably as in beer) there is no licence given for the terms under which the data may be used or re-used. It would appear that the intention is that the data is made available for re-use without charge, but it is not clear from the web page whether this is the case, and whether any/all IP in the data can be re-used without restriction.

I sent the following email to Companies' House (2014-07-22) asking for clarification:

To whom it may concern,

I've just come across on the web. The data there looks like it could be very useful.

However, I do not see any mention on that page (or on the linked FAQ) of a licence under which the data can be re-used or combined with other data. Without such conditions, I believe that the default position under UK law would be that the author would retain the copyright and any database rights, making re-use without permission unlawful.

Could you confirm whether people downloading the data are free to re-use it in any way they see fit, or if there are some restrictions / licence conditions that must be be -- for example by following the "Open Government Licence" at

Ideally, you would include the licence details on the main web page, so anyone downloading the data from there is aware of them.

Many thanks,

After prompting them again for a reply, I received the following (2014-09-08):

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email and interest in Companies House data. Apologies for the delay in providing you with a response.

I can confirm there are no restrictions on the use of the data provided within the Free Company Data Product at:

As public information, you are free to use it however you wish.

I hope this helps. If you require any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Kind regards

That sounds promising, and indicates that they do indeed intend for the data to be available for re-use without restriction. But it doesn't explicitly give a licence to do so, or guarentee that there aren't any IP rights in there that could bite you. The reply also misses the point that the conditions for re-use (even if there aren't any) should be explicitly stated on the web page next to the download links.

Time passed, and I didn't have time to look into things in more details. But I've now written to Companies' House again (2014-11-28), asking them to explicitly licence the data under either the ODC's Public Domain Dedication and License or the Open Government Licence v3.0. I'll update this page when I recieve a reply.