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The registrar might assume that the company is no longer carrying on business or in operation and take steps to strike it from the register. If the registrar strikes a company off the register, it ceases to exist and its assets become Crown property. Failing to do so is a criminal offence. In addition, there is an automatic civil penalty for submitting accounts late.
The requirement to file annual documents applies to all companies, including small companies such as flat management companies. You should read this guide together with the Companies Act and the relevant regulations which are available to view on the UK legislation website.
A financial year is usually a 12 month period for which you prepare accounts. Every company must prepare accounts that report on the performance and activities of the company during the financial year. Your financial year starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new company, on the day of incorporation.
Financial years are determined by reference to an accounting reference period that ends on a specified date known as the Accounting Reference Date ARD. You may choose to make up your accounts to the accounting reference date or a date up to 7 days either side of it.
For all newly formed companies, their first accounting reference date will be the last day of the month in which the anniversary of their incorporation falls. Subsequent accounting reference dates will automatically fall on the same date each year. For example, if your company was incorporated on 6 April its first accounting reference date would be 30 April and 30 April for every year thereafter.
You can change the current or the immediately previous accounting reference date so as to extend or shorten the period. To do this you must notify Companies House of a change of accounting reference date on form AA You must submit an acceptable change of accounting reference date before the filing deadline of the accounts for the period that you wish to change.
In other words, if accounts for a particular accounting reference period become overdue, it is too late to change the accounting reference date. Private companies have 9 months and public companies 6 months to submit their accounts to Companies House after the end of each accounting reference period. You may change an accounting reference date by shortening an accounting reference period as often as you like and by as many months as you like.
You should note that when you extend your first accounting period to the maximum 18 months, you must count the date of incorporation as the first day of the period.
Many companies make the mistake of simply adding 6 months to the end of the period, which can in some cases extend the period beyond 18 months and lead to the application being rejected. Every company, whether or not they are trading, must keep accounting records. Parent companies must ensure that any subsidiary undertaking keeps sufficient accounting records so that the directors of the parent company can prepare accounts that comply with the Companies Act or International Accounting Standards.
A company must keep its accounting records at its registered office address or a place that the directors think suitable. If the company holds the records at a place outside of the UK, it must send accounts and returns at least every six months and keep them in the UK. Those accounts and returns must disclose the financial position and enable the directors to prepare accounts that comply with the requirements of the Companies Act, including where the accounts are prepared using International Accounting Standards.
Private companies must keep accounting records for 3 years from the date they were made. Public companies must keep them for 6 years. The directors of every company must prepare accounts for each financial year. These are called individual accounts. A parent company must also prepare group accounts but for parent companies that qualify as small this is optional.
A dormant company that is also a subsidiary may be able to claim exemption from the preparation or filing of its accounts under certain circumstances. This is covered in our guidance on audit requirements and exemptions. There is no requirement for companies to use a professional accountant to prepare their accounts. However, directors should be aware of their legal responsibilities regarding accounts and if they are uncertain about the requirements they may consider seeking professional advice.
This will not apply to certain dormant subsidiary companies that are exempt from preparing accounts. There is no longer a statutory requirement for private companies to lay their accounts before members at a general meeting. A company may pass a resolution or make provision in its articles that the company may send or supply documents, including accounts, to members by website. Members do not have to agree to receive communications in this way and have the right to request a paper copy.
However small companies and micro-entities may prepare an abridged version of those accounts which has less detail by omitting certain balance sheet items — more details are given in our guidance on small company accounts and micro-entity accounts. Qualifying dormant companies can deliver even simpler annual accounts to Companies House — more details are given in our guidance on dormant company accounts.
Unlimited companies need only deliver accounts to Companies House if, at any time during the period covered by the accounts:. A dormant subsidiary may be able to claim exemption from the preparation or filing of its accounts under certain circumstances — more details are given in our guidance on dormant company accounts.
Companies House cannot give technical advice on your accounts. We can only give general guidance, not technical advice on specific accounting or legal issues. Your accounts are subject to legal requirements, and we are not qualified to give specialist advice. You may wish to consider consulting an accountant if you need this sort of advice.
If applicable, you must still file with other regulatory bodies according to their requirements and filing deadlines. For further information about the requirements of other government organisations please contact the relevant organisation.
Charitable companies should note that if they prepare their accounts in the format advised by the Charity Commission then they will be unable to use the Companies House WebFiling service to file their accounts with the registrar.
Companies House is working with the Charity Commission on providing an electronic joint filing service for charitable company accounts.
Until such a service is launched, charitable companies will need to file their accounts at Companies House on paper. The Charity Commission have recently published a new template to assist charitable companies in preparing their accounts. Once completed a copy of this template may also be sent to Companies House in order to fulfill our filing requirements. Please be aware of the definition of a period of months in connection with filing accounts.
A period of months after a given date ends on the corresponding date in the appropriate month. For example a private company with an accounting reference date of 4 April has until midnight on 4 January of the following year to deliver its accounts, not 31 January. This does not apply if your accounting reference date is the last day of the month.
In this case the period allowed for filing accounts would end with the last day of the appropriate month. For example a private company with an accounting reference date of 30 April has until midnight on 31 January of the following year to deliver its accounts, not 30 January. If a filing deadline falls on a Sunday or Bank Holiday, the law still requires you to file the accounts by that date.
To avoid a penalty, please ensure that you send acceptable accounts in time to arrive before the deadline. Read about our office access and opening times. For example, a private company incorporated on 1 January with an accounting reference date of 31 January has until midnight on 1 October 21 months from the date of incorporation to deliver its accounts, not 31 October. If the first accounts cover a period of 12 months or less, the normal times allowed for delivering accounts apply. When a company shortens its accounting period, the new filing deadline will be the longer of the following two options;.
If there is a special reason for doing so, you may apply to extend the time for delivering accounts to Companies House; for example, if there has been an unforeseen event which was outside the control of the company and its auditors. You should make the application in writing and deliver it before the normal filing deadline.
It must contain a full explanation of the reasons for the extension and the length of the extension requested. You can do this by emailing our enquiries section or writing to;. For companies incorporated in England and Wales, write to: For companies incorporated in Scotland, write to: For companies incorporated in Northern Ireland, write to: You will not receive a late filing penalty if we grant you an extension and you file your accounts before the new deadline.
Failure to deliver accounts on time is a criminal offence. In addition, the law imposes a civil penalty for late filing of accounts on the company. The amount of the penalty depends on how late the accounts arrive and whether the company is private or public at the date of the balance sheet, as shown in the table below:.
Further information is available in our guide on late filing penalties. If the registrar believes that a company is no longer carrying on business or in operation, he could strike it off the register and dissolve it. If this happens all the assets of the company, including its bank account and property, generally become the property of the Crown. Failure to deliver documents is a criminal offence.
All the directors of the company risk prosecution. On conviction, a director could end up with a criminal record and a potentially unlimited fine for each offence. This is separate from the civil penalty imposed on the company for late filing of accounts.
There are also a variety of software providers which also offer a range of accounting packages which may be used for the preparation and filing of accounts. Most types of accounts can be software filed, depending on the functionality of the software package that you are using. Read about our list of software filing packages currently available. If you have prepared micro-entity or small company audit exempt accounts you may be able to file them using the Company Accounts and Tax Online CATO service which enables you to enter your accounts data once and use it to submit to both Companies House and HMRC.
The joint filing option will allow you to submit audit exempt accounts of the following types to both organisations:.
For further information on whether this is suitable for your company please refer to the joint filing FAQs on our website. If filing your accounts on paper it is crucial that you get your accounts to us well before the filing deadline as you will not be given any extra time if they are rejected.