There are many ways to publish beneficial ownership information publicly; some will better promote policy impact than others. This section offers guidance on how to publish information in order to drive policy impact.
Open data is the best way to publish beneficial ownership information, as it allows the widest possible range of people and organisations to use it to drive policy impact. Understanding the different ways in which people want to access and use the data will help you design publication systems that enable this.

Publish as open data

Open data is digital “structured” and “machine-readable” data that is available free of charge and can be used and reused by anyone. Making the beneficial ownership data that you publish available as open data means it is easier for people and organisations to use it for public benefit. Structured data makes is possible to link beneficial ownership information with other data and improves the quality of the data. This helps ensure that your beneficial ownership register fulfills your policy goals.

To realise these benefits, it is advisable to enshrine in law that the data you publish will be available as open data. Whilst enshrining in law public access to the data is of course important, open data goes further and can unlock additional policy impact. For example, you could include reference to publishing data “in accordance with the globally accepted principles and standards for open data in the Open Data Charter.

The graphic below shows how open data differs from information that is simply publicly available.


You can read more about the benefits of open data beneficial ownership information in our briefing - the case for open data registers. In addition, OpenOwnership is drafting guidance on what to consider when deciding which type of open data license to use for beneficial ownership data. This will be available in the coming months.

What is best practice for publishing beneficial ownership data?

Understanding the different ways in which government departments, businesses and civil society will want to access and use your beneficial ownership register to drive policy impact, will help design systems that enable this. In general, some people will want to search for a particular record, while others will want to analyse many records at once. This means publishing the data in ways that both humans and computers can read, understand and use it.

OpenOwnership recommends the following:

  • Data is freely available online, is searchable, downloadable and reusable by the public, without a fee, proprietary software, or the need for registration. It is important to plan for publication processes and tools to be updated regularly, and in response to user feedback.

  • Data is available in bulk, in structured, machine-readable format that complies with the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS). This could be via an API (which allows data users to access the data in machine-readable format such as JSON, direct from a website) and/or a bulk download service (where a copy of the entire registry data is put online at regular intervals in a downloadable open file format such as .csv).

  • The published data is synchronised to the global OpenOwnership Register, which links beneficial ownership data from across the world. This links national data with beneficial ownership data from other countries, increasing policy impact. This can be done using the API or bulk download solution mentioned above, and you can contact us for more information.

As with other aspects of implementing beneficial ownership transparency, it is important to plan for publication processes and tools to be updated regularly, and in response to user feedback.

How are other countries publishing beneficial ownership information?

Coming soon! We are compiling case studies of how open beneficial ownership registers operate around the world.

What is good practice for evaluating and improving publication?

Publication processes and technologies are fast changing, and an iterative approach to reviewing and improving publication will help ensure your published data continues to meet the needs of users, and drives policy impact. The Beneficial Ownership Data Standard will continue to develop under an open standards development process, and the OpenOwnership Helpdesk will provide technical support with updates.

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