One of the challenges in producing this report is that good information about company registries in different countries or jurisdictions is in short supply.
Despite the importance of company registries, as they are usually intended to be the canonical reference source for the legal information about companies, they are often hard to find. There is no comprehensive directory of company registries, making them difficult to track down, either through central government sites, or through search engines.
Once registries have been found, they are often difficult to use. It is often unclear if a registry covers all companies in a jurisdiction. The quality or accuracy of the information contained in these registries is often in doubt, and frequently the register’s legal status is not mentioned. All too often most or all of the data is difficult to view.
Company registers should be public, as they are the public record of artificial entities given legal personality by the state for the benefit of society. In a free and open society, this important information should be free to use and reuse for all, without charge and without restrictive license conditions.
This material should be in the public domain, with no license restrictions at all. For this survey, scoring has been done based on whether the license complies with the generally accepted Open Knowledge Definition.
Additionally, the underlying data should be available to all without fee, and without restrictions, as machine-readable data. If the data is not available freely, it can only be accessed by those with the resources to pay, thus undermining scrutiny, innovation, and a free and open market. Scores were assessed on the following basis: (with a total of a possible 100 points):
1. Freely searchable information: 20 points
Is basic information is online and available to search without charge or registration?
This is the base minimum threshold for an open company register. In short, if a company register cannot be searched for without charge, restriction or registration (which implies restriction) then the register is essentially closed to the public.
In cases where there are central registers that aggregate local regional registers (as in the case of Spain or Brazil), scoring is based on this central register, rather than the regional registers.
2. Licensing: up to 30 points
Is there an explicit open licence (e.g. CC-0, Open Government Licence)?
- 30 points for a licence that conforms to the Open Knowledge definition;
- 5 points for no explicit licence;
- 0 points for a licence that explicitly prevents reuse or otherwise fails to conform to the Open Knowledge definition, including catch-all closed licences (e.g. All Rights Reserved).
3. Data freely available: 20 points
Is the information freely available as data, either as an openly licensed data dump or via an openly licensed API?
- 20 points if the data is freely available
- 0 points if there are any restrictions to having the data freely available
4. Directors: 10 points
Does the publicly available information include a list of company directors for each company?
- 10 points if it includes a list of company directors for each company
- 0 points if it does not include a list of company directors for each company
5. Filings: 10 points
Does the publicly available information include statutory filings (e.g. Annual Reports) for each company?
- 10 points if it includes statutory filings for each company
- 0 points if it does not include statutory filings for each company
6. Shareholdings: 10 points
Does the publicly available information include significant shareholdings for each company?
- 10 points if it includes significant shareholdings for each company
- 0 points if it does not include significant shareholdings for each company
Errors and corrections
OpenCorporates has a policy of correcting errors as soon as they are brought to our attention. If you believe that any of the scores on this index are incorrect or out-of-date, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org