Filing your annual accounts and annual return

 An excerpt from Lawpack's Limited Company Formation Kit.

When you form a limited company, you’re obliged by law to file annual accounts with Companies House and they must be audited by an independent auditor. Plus your limited company also needs to deliver to Companies House an annual return.

Find out what Companies House expects to receive in the company annual accounts, and when you should file your limited company’s annual accounts and annual return.

Find out more on how to appoint an auditor.

What’s included in the annual accounts?

The limited company’s annual accounts consist of:

  • A director’s report
  • A balance sheet
  • A profit and loss account made up to the last day of the limited company’s financial year

The limited company must file, if appropriate, an auditor’s report with each set of annual accounts.

Find out if you need your limited company's accounts audited.

When must the annual accounts be filed with Companies House?

The limited company’s annual accounts must be delivered to Companies House within nine months after the end of the relevant accounting reference period.

If you fail to file your annual accounts, the limited company is liable to a fine, as is each company director. Certain exemptions as to the information that needs to be filed are available; your accountant should be able to advise you on this. 

The accounts and directors’ report must be approved by the limited company directors and signed on behalf of the board by a company director or, in the case of the directors’ report, by the company secretary or a company director. The auditor’s report, if there is one, must be signed by the auditors.

Generally, the accounts and directors’ and auditor’s reports are laid, or presented, before the limited company’s shareholders at a general meeting, but there is no longer any legal requirement to do so.

Note that the first annual accounts of a private limited company should be submitted to Companies House within 22 months of the company being incorporated if the first accounting reference period of the company is longer than one year.

If the accounting reference period is shorter than a year, annual accounts should be presented to Companies House within nine months of the end of the period.

When do I file my limited company’s annual return?

Your limited company must deliver an annual return to Companies House relating to the ownership and governance of the company at the anniversary of the limited company’s incorporation.

To complete the annual return you must use the Companies House Form AR01 and get it signed by a company director or company secretary, sent with a cheque for the fee payable.

If the limited company fails to deliver its annual return within 28 days after the return date, the company is liable to a fine, as is every company director and the company secretary, or be struck off the Companies Register.

Companies House offers an online facility for submitting annual returns. An annual return filed online can be £15 cheaper than filing a paper annual return.

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Published on: October 11, 2010

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