Upon the introduction of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the EU member states had to introduce UBO registers in 2017. At that time, however, the EU states were not obliged to make the UBO-Registers publicly accessible. Only persons with a legitimate interest had access to the registers.
Based on the 5th EU Money Laundering Directive which came into force in July 2018, the EU member states had to make the UBO registers publicly accessible by the beginning of 2020. However, a legitimate interest is still required in order to be able to access the UBO registers for information on trusts and the like.
While in some member-states there is direct internet access to the UBO registers (e.g. in the UK), in other states access is more difficult. There is also differences in the extent of public access. The following data must be accessible to the public: name, month/year of birth, nationality, country of residence and extent of beneficial interest; in certain countries, for example, even the address of the beneficial owner can be viewed.