Updated Policy Paper: How OpenCorporates should handle company number problems (v1.2)

In January, we blogged that we’re now publishing an internal policy paper – How OpenCorporates Should Handle Company Number Problems – under a Creative Commons Licence.

We’ve since identified a few new cases which should be covered by our policy, so we’ve published a new version of this paper –  How OpenCorporates Should Handle Company Number Problems v1.2.

In the spirit of transparency, this new version includes the following changes:

  • We’ve documented our approach for handling simultaneous registrations for a single company, including when the relocation of a company causes a new registration to occur, as we’ve seen in Germany.
  • We’ve updated the approach we take when a company number does not uniquely identify the company. Where a jurisdiction has multiple registers, our policy now recognises these registers as distinct, in the same way that we recognise the US states or Canadian Provinces.

    If there is a risk of overlapping numbers, or if the numbering system of one of the registers is unknown, we can use a prefix to distinguish the identifiers. This prefix should either be issued by the government itself, or issued by GLEIF Registration Authorities list.For example, RA000693 is the GLEIF Registration Authorities code for the Belize International Business Companies register, so RA000693_123 identifies legal entity 123 in the Belize IBC register.

Why do identifiers matter?

When company numbers are well-designed they are unique, persistent and unambiguous. As companies change their names relatively frequently (and legal names can be reused), unique, stable and unambiguous company numbers are the only way of categorically identifying legal entities.

While the majority of corporate registers do handle such identifiers properly, OpenCorporates has identified a number of registers where this is not the case – where the identifiers are badly designed, not persistent, or not unique. In order to be transparent about our work, we’re publishing our policy papers to help users understand how we handle these issues.

Read v1.2 of How OpenCorporates Should Handle Company Number Problems – we welcome any feedback or comments!

Photo by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash

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