Beneficial Ownership Data Standard approved by UK government


The Beneficial Ownership Data Standard has been approved to be used for the collection, exchange, use, and distribution of beneficial ownership data by the UK government.

Data experts will now be working with a group of key agencies, including Companies House, the Crown Commercial Service, and the Competition and Markets Authority, on pilots to see how their digital systems can be updated or adapted in line with the standard.

Detailed guidance for how these agencies should use the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard has been published on the UK Government website and it is now included on the UK’s list of open standards chosen for use in government technology.

Thom Townsend, Executive Director of Open Ownership, said: “The UK is showing leadership on beneficial ownership transparency by embracing the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard and endorsing the importance of openness in this field. Using an open standard for beneficial ownership data will make it easier to produce high-quality data which can be quickly shared with relevant agencies and linked with information from across the world.”

This announcement comes after months of engagement between Open Ownership’s data team, the Data Standards Authority, and the Open Standards Board following the launch of a challenge on collecting beneficial ownership data in March 2021. It also follows the UK’s declaration of its national commitment to meet the Beneficial Ownership Transparency Disclosure Principles in September 2021.

The objectives of the challenge were:

  • to give the open standards community the opportunity to contribute to the challenge of establishing an open standard for beneficial ownership data;
  • to provide feedback to Open Ownership on the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard, so they can continue to develop it in preparation for their v1.0 release;
  • to coordinate open standards discussions for beneficial ownership data in the UK, in advance of new government commitments to collecting it;
  • to demonstrate to other countries how an open standard for beneficial ownership data could be created, possibly helping efforts to coordinate standards internationally so that beneficial ownership data could be shared across borders.

In an April 2021 blogpost, data experts from across the UK government identified a range of user needs relating to beneficial ownership in the areas of procurement, counter-fraud, anti-money laundering, and national security.

During its consideration process, the Data Standards Authority assessed the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard against its Open Standards Principles using a set of 47 questions. This assessment resulted in a recommendation which was presented to the Open Standards Board at a virtual meeting on 16 September 2021.

The Data Standards Authority was established in 2020 and is tasked with establishing standards to make it easier and more effective to share and use data across the UK government.

Since 2013, the Open Standards Board has been accountable for transparent selection and implementation of open standards. The full list of open standards previously chosen for use in government technology is available on

The Beneficial Ownership Data Standard is an open standard for collecting, sharing, and using data on beneficial ownership. Documentation about the Standard can be found at in English, Spanish, and Russian.

Open Ownership and our technical partners at Open Data Services are currently working towards the release of v0.3 of the standard, and the progress of this release can be tracked via Github. To propose a new feature or see all of the changes to the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard that we are researching, proposing, and implementing, please visit our feature tracker on Github.