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Companies House year-end filing regime explained

Companies House year-end filing regime explained
Ben Hildebrand

By Ben Hildebrand

29 Sep 2021

Most companies and LLPs registered in the UK are required to file their accounts each year with Companies House. Here we explain the key points to know about the Companies House accounts filing regime.

Filing deadline

Private limited companies and LLPs (Limited Liability partnerships) usually have nine months from the year end to file their financial statements on public record at Companies House. The rules are different for the first year (when the accounts must be filed within 21 months of incorporation) and for PLCs (which have a six month filing deadline).

Penalty regime

If the accounts are filed after the deadline, the entity will be liable for a late filing penalty. Penalties are levied on a sliding scale starting at £150 (£750 for PLCs), with incremental increases up to £1,500 (£7,500 for PLCs) if more than six months late. The penalty is doubled if the filing was also late in the prior year.

Accounting Reference Date (‘’ARD’’)

Every entity has an accounting reference date to which financial statements are prepared annually (eg – 31 December). However, the financial statements can be prepared to a date that is up to seven days either side of the ARD. For example, a private limited company with an ARD of 31 December could file financial statements with a year end date of between 24 December and 7 January. This is used frequently by those businesses in the retail sector, who prefer to report on a 52/53 week basis.

Changing the ARD

It may be appropriate to change the ARD of an entity, for example from 31 December to 31 March. This can be done, but careful consideration should be taken before extending the ARD as it cannot then be extended again for another five years (unless it meets specific exemptions, such as the ARD is being changed to align with a UK parent or subsidiary company). It is also important to note that a set of financial statements cannot usually be for an accounting period longer than 18 months. For the first set of accounts, the minimum accounting period is six months.

It is also possible to shorten an ARD of an entity and this can be done an unlimited amount of times and the minimum period for which it can be done is one day.

Initial ARD

When a company is first incorporated, the ARD will default to a year from the end of the month of incorporation. This can be changed either during the initial post-incorporation processes or subsequent, although no changes may be made if the accounts fall overdue. It is important to choose an appropriate date that works for you and your business. As an example, football clubs tend to have an accounting date at the end of season!

Filing options

The size of the entity dictates the filing options that are available. If the entity qualifies for the micro or small entity regime a much-reduced disclosure framework can be used. This would negate the need to publicly file the profit and loss account, amongst others.

Filing format

Companies House accept financial statements for filing in paper form, they must be signed and dated in black ink and sent to the Cardiff office. Most accounting firms use software for bookkeeping and preparing financial statements, and this allows us to file electronically. Typically these are then available to view at Companies House within a few hours.

Dormant accounts

If the entity has not traded in the year, dormant accounts can be filed with companies house. Dormant entities are those defined as not having had significant transactions in the year. Significant transactions do not include the following.

  • Companies house filing fees
  • Penalties for late filing of financial statements
  • Money paid for shares when the company was incorporated

If you would like to discuss anything we have covered in this article or find out more, please do not hesitate to contact our business advisory team.


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