The UBO Registry versus the UBO Database. The main differences

Henrica Westhoeve
June 9, 2022 - Reading Time 5 minutes

The CBE has a UBO register, but at Altares Dun & Bradstreet we talk about a UBO-database. These are two different databases that each provide information about the UBO (beneficial owners) of a company, but there are also differences between the two databases. The three main differences are explained.


National versus International

In Belgium and other member states of the European Union, having a UBO register is mandatory. Companies with specific legal forms are obliged to register their UBOs in the UBO register of the CBE. The UBO register is thus exclusively for Belgian companies and operates only in Belgium. The UBO database is a worldwide database. Many Belgian companies are affiliated with companies abroad. Think of parent companies and subsidiaries, or shares held through holding companies. To get a complete picture of all UBOs, a global database is therefore important.

UBO Database graphic
Example of an international UBO structure

Worldwide the laws and definitions surrounding UBOs differ. In Belgium you are only a UBO at 25% or more, in other countries this is already at 10%. The UBO database already records UBOs from 0.01% interest. But also shareholders and pseudo-UBOs are recorded so that you can easily set up an international due diligence process. Pseudo-UBOs are designated if a company has no UBO, in which case the most important person or persons are designated as UBO.

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Large versus small

Under Belgian law, a beneficial owner is only a UBO if he has more than 25% shares or voting rights within an organization. But someone with 23% in shares may just as well be a risk. Details of shareholders and UBOs with less than 25% interest are not found in the UBO register. As a company, you want to avoid all possible reputational damage, and this can be in a small corner. For example, is a "small shareholder" of a company you do business with involved in money laundering or terrorist financing? If so, you could suffer major reputational damage. Even small UBOs can have big consequences.

Want to know all about UBO's? Read More

Static versus dynamic

Op het moment dat je informatie ophaalt uit het UBO-register beschik je over statische UBO informatie. Maar het komt regelmatig voor dat de UBO van een bedrijf veranderd. Dit gebeurt als er bedrijfsovernames zijn, een bedrijf de beurs op gaat of een bedrijf een doorstart maakt. UBO’s veranderen vooral vaak bij verenigingen en stichtingen. Deze kiezen vaak elk jaar een nieuw bestuur en dus nieuwe UBO’s.  Ook kan het zo zijn dat op het moment dat je de informatie ophaalt er niks aan de hand is, maar kan morgen zomaar anders zijn. Denk aan plaatsing van een UBO op sanctielijsten of watch lists. The UBO database updates the information daily, but the information you retrieved from the UBO register of the CBE does not automatically change with it. If you only request a batch-file with UBO's from us, this is also a form of static information. It does not change with UBO changes. Monitoring is the only way to be automatically informed of current changes in (inter)national UBO structures.

The differences between the CBE's UBO register and Altares Dun & Bradstreet's UBO database help in making the right decision. How big is your risk appetite? Do you want to monitor or is one-time information retrieval enough? Do you operate nationally, or do you also do international business? In all cases, there is a database that fits your needs.


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White paper

UBO monitoring

The Challenges and Practicalities

Understanding UBOs is a fundamental regulatory requirement in the EU Money Laundering Directive, which forms part of a risk-based approach to Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Client (KYC) and Client Due Diligence (CDD) efforts. In this whitepaper, we explore ways to overcome the challenges of UBO verification and monitoring.

Pdf of 28 pages, 0.3 MB

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