A Guide to Implementing Beneficial Ownership Transparency

This guide is designed to support governments that are considering or implementing beneficial ownership transparency. It provides practical resources, and shares the knowledge and good practice that is being developed by a growing number of countries around the world. We also hope it will be helpful for people in international institutions, the private sector and civil society who are supporting beneficial ownership transparency.

The guide helps you navigate the journey from considering beneficial ownership transparency through to publishing data on a public register. We’ve divided the guide into six focus areas, so it can be used wherever you are in your implementation; whether you are considering the options, working to make an existing beneficial ownership register public, or establishing a new register. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to beneficial ownership transparency, and this guide is designed to help you design and implement policies and systems that work within your country context and can bring about your intended policy impact.

From policy to practice

OpenOwnership is a team of policy and technical experts working with governments, the private sector, civil society and journalists. We’re leading the development of an open data and policy ecosystem that ends the abuse of anonymously owned companies, and makes it easy to publish and access high-quality, linked data about who owns and controls companies.

This guide brings together useful content, expertise and tools we have developed through providing technical assistance and policy support to a range of countries that are considering or implementing beneficial ownership transparency. It is also informed by the expertise of many partners including the Open Government Partnership, Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and leading transparency NGOs.

This guide is built on a set of Characteristics of Effective Beneficial Ownership Data. It incorporates the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS), an open source (free for anyone to use) product that OpenOwnership is developing in partnership with Open Data Services. BODS makes it easier for people to understand and use beneficial ownership information, and link it with other datasets.

We’re all on the implementation journey together

Beneficial ownership transparency is a relatively new policy area, and best practice is still emerging. Therefore, this guide should be understood as a work in progress, which will continue to evolve and improve over time in response to our continuing collaborations with governments around the world.

However, it is clear from tracking progress to date that it is important to understand how people will want to and need to use beneficial ownership information, and ensure the laws and regulations and systems you design enable this. Similarly, it is important to consider how you can verify the information submitted to your beneficial ownership register, and build in steps to do this within the legal framework and technical systems.

Objectives, policies and systems may change over time, and the guide is designed to be adaptable to what we learn as more countries design systems, registers, and more people use and share data.

We are also here to learn. We really want to know what works for you and what doesn’t. Please send us your feedback on the guide here. If you can’t find what you need, or you have further questions, our Helpdesk is on hand to answer questions about a range of technical and policy issues relating to beneficial ownership transparency.

Let’s get started!

Beneficial ownership transparency is a global movement. People are becoming increasingly aware of the harm anonymous company ownership is having on communities, economies and business, and more governments are making public commitments to beneficial ownership transparency.

Depending on your role, your level of knowledge about beneficial ownership and where your country is on the implementation journey, you can find an overview of everything in the Consider section, access information by focus area using the buttons below, or jump straight to the technical information for the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard.