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. UNRESTRICTED ONLINE SEARCH (no cost, no registration, search feature): 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.
Additional factor: Reduce by 10 points if the register has known quality problems (e.g. many duplicate records), is not frequently updated, or doesn’t give the status of the company (i.e. whether it is still in business) order doesn't provide unique identifiers. Reason to be recorded.
2. OPENLY LICENSED: UP TO 30 POINTS
Is there an explicit open licence (e.g. CC-0, UK 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).
Additional data to be captured: URL of terms and conditions and/or to the licence (e.g. UK Open Government Licence).
3. FREE MACHINE-READABLE DATA: 20 POINTS
Is the basic information freely available as data, either as a free data dump or via a free API?
- 20 points if the data is freely available
- 0 points if there are any restrictions to having the data freely available
Clarification: An API may require registration, but must add no additional restrictions to the use of the data, nor to charge for access to the data. Download dumps should not require registration or additional restrictions.
Additional data to be captured: URL of download page or API.
4. DATA DEPTH: 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 as freely available data
- 0 points if it does not include a list of company directors for each company
Clarification: The register should list all directors for a company, or at least all executive directors. Where a company register clearly only makes a single director available it should not be considered to meet the threshold
5. DATA DEPTH: ANNUAL ACCOUNTS: 10 POINTS
Does the publicly available information include annual accounts for each company?
- 10 points if it includes annual accounts for each company available as freely available data
- 5 points if it includes annual accounts for each company freely available, but not available as data (e.g. only on a web page, or PDF/image documents)
- 0 points if it does not include annual accounts for each company
6. DATA DEPTH: SHAREHOLDINGS: 10 POINTS
Does the publicly available information include significant shareholdings for each company?
- 10 points if it includes significant shareholdings for each company available as freely available data
- 5 points if it includes significant shareholdings for each company freely available, but not available as data (e.g. only on a web page, or PDF/image documents)
- 0 points if it does not include significant shareholdings for each company
Clarification: To qualify a register must include detailed shareholding, including the number or percentage of shares held, and must be contemporaneous (i.e. updated as the shareholding changes, not once per year).
Other information captured
To ensure that the data is fully transparent, the following fields are captured for each register:
- Country name if it includes significant shareholdings for each company
- Jurisdiction if different from above (e.g. Delaware)
- Name of company register (e.g. Delaware)
- URL for company register, or government page (e.g on Ministry of Commerce website) referencing the register, if register is not online
- Date assessment made
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