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How To File Accounts To Companies House

File accounts Companies House

Do you own a limited company in the United Kingdom? If so, you have a legal obligation to file accounts with Companies House. Accounts must be filed with Companies House even if your company is considered dormant and isn’t currently trading.

It’s important to remain compliant as a UK limited company, and filing accounts is a key part of the process. It can seem daunting, but with guidance the process is quite straightforward.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about filing your accounts with Companies House, including:

  • What information needs to be included
  • The different types of accounts
  • Filing deadlines
  • How to actually file your accounts
  • What happens if you file late
  • Who else needs to receive the accounts
  • Requirements for dormant and micro-entity companies
  • Tips for new businesses and first-time filers
  • Resources for help with preparing and filing
  • An overview of common filing mistakes to avoid

Let’s start by looking at what accounts are and what needs to be included.

What Are Annual Accounts?

Also known as annual accounts, financial statements cover the financial performance of a company in the previous 12 months. Annual accounts are useful to the company in question, but they are also required by Companies House and HMRC for legal and regulation reasons.

Annual accounts must be an accurate representation of the health of the business books.

This includes:

  • Balance Sheet: These provide an accurate overview of company accounts, equity, liability, and assets; they help you make better financial decisions and cover taxes.
  • Profit and Loss Account: The money paid for business expenses against tha money coming in is called the profit and loss balance: it helps to measure growth.
  • Notes: The business years are full of ups and downs, and notes allow you to track changes and account for major events that influence the health of the business.
  • Director’s Report: Every medium and large sized company will have a director’s report which provides an overview of the company’s assets and decision making.
  • Auditor’s Report: Audits provide a detailed view of the company’s performance, for industries which require audits, and independent report is needed for regulation.

All company accounts must comply with regulatory standards such as the IFRS and the UK GAAP. It’s important to understand what regulations apply to your business.

Make sure you follow the best practices below when preparing your accounts.

  • Employ the best formatting for your industry and include relevant details.
  • Ensure that all accounts you submit are accurate and up-to-date.
  • Ensure complete transparency, disclose major events and risks.
  • Ensure that accounting standards for your industry are met.
  • Don’t be afraid to employ professional help when required.

When your company accounts are robust and up-to-date you instil confidence in your employees and shareholders, safeguard the business and attract more investments.

What Are The Different Types of Accounts?

There are 3 main types of accounts for Companies House:

  • Small Company Accounts
  • Medium-Sized Company Accounts
  • Large Company Accounts

The type you file depends on your company’s size, based on these thresholds:

Small Company

  • Fewer than 50 employees
  • Turnover under £10.2 million
  • Balance sheet total under £5.1 million

Medium-Sized Company

  • Fewer than 250 employees
  • Turnover under £36 million
  • Balance sheet total under £18 million

Large Company

  • Over 250 employees
  • Turnover over £36 million
  • Balance sheet total over £18 million

Small companies make up the vast majority of accounts in the UK which is why small company accounts are the most popular form.

Small companies have the simplest account filing process, and medium and large scale companies face tougher regulatory standards.

Understand that companies which scale must adapt to different regulatory standards as they grow; keep a close eye on your employee numbers, balance sheet, and annual turnover.

Filing Deadlines

After your registration with Companies House, the first accounts are expected within 21 months. Following that, annual accounts are normally submitted to them within 9 months of the financial year’s end.

For instance, a financial year which runs from January to December requires accounts to be submitted by September 30 the following year.

Remember, Companies House employs strict deadlines with consequences, so you must avoid legal action and penalties.

Companies House deadlines are a priority for your business, so make sure you understand the end of the financial year and set reminders to prepare in plenty of time.

New companies tend to have a lot on their plate, but it’s important to file your initial report after 21 months to avoid penalties and jeopardise your fledgling business.

How to File Your Accounts

You have three options to file your accounts with Companies House:

Online

The fastest and most popular way to file your company House accounts is online. First, you will need to register with WebFiling. Next, log-in, enter your authentication code, upload a PDF of your accounts and supporting documents, and submit.

By Post

Post is another useful way to submit accounts, simply complete the appropriate form on the Companies House website making sure your accounts are formatted correctly, and have all the relevant information. Ensure that you post in advance of the deadline in case of delays.

Using Software

If you aren’t skilled in accounting, don’t worry, there are plenty of software options to assist. Investigate third party software options for bookkeeping, and accounting support.

The best way to file your accounts is online, but there are other options such as postal filing. Use postal filing if you prefer physical documents and software if you want to automate filing.

Filing documents to Companies House is essential, but you have options for how to file them–choose one that suits the nature of your business and streamline your workflows.

Consequences of Late Filing

Missing deadlines can lead to penalties based on how late you file:

  • Up to 1 month late: £150
  • 1 to 3 months late: £375
  • 3 to 6 months late: £750
  • Over 6 months late: £1,500

Penalties double if you file late 2 years in a row.

Furthermore, late filing can lead to a damaged credit rating that significantly impacts your business and reputation. It can also make it challenging to get new credit and financing.

Make sure you avoid penalties by filing your documents to Companies House on time. It’s best to use a calendar and various reminders to ensure you are well prepared for the date.

Filing documents late can happen, but you must act swiftly! Contact Companies House right away to make arrangements, the longer you leave it the more you will need to pay overall.

Appealing Late Filing Penalties

Penalties can be appealed if you have a reasonable excuse, such as:

  • Illness or injury preventing you or your accountant from working
  • Death of a close associate
  • Damage to premises or records from natural disasters
  • Technical problems with Companies House systems
  • Postal delays

If you miss a deadline, act fast! Contact Companies House by phone or using a letter and explain the circumstances for the missed deadline–they can cancel or reduce the payment.

Companies House has a “responsible excuse’ criteria for missing deadlines, but they are very strict about it–ensure you have a valid reason for the appeal.

Even if you miss a deadline, it’s still important to submit your documents, you can then contact Companies House and detail your ‘reasonable excuse’ criteria.

Who Else Needs the Accounts?

Companies House is not the only body you must submit your account to, it’s important to send canopies to shareholders and HMRC as well.

  • Shareholders: Private limited companies have shareholders that need to be updated on the health of the company–they are entitled to receive annual reports.
  • HMRC: The company will need to cover taxes so make sure you file appropriately.

If you are unsure about reporting responsibilities, it’s best to seek professional advice.

Companies House is one of a handful of entities that needs to view your accounts, shareholders and tax authorities also require updates to ensure performance standards.

Preparing accounts should be done ahead of time and copies should be made for all relevant parties, this includes shareholders, tax authorities, and Companies House.

Requirements for Dormant and Micro-Entity Companies

It’s important to understand the criteria at Companies House, there are various filing requirements for different types of business, such as dormant and micro-entities.

Dormant Company

Dormant companies are businesses which are registered but aren’t actively trading at the moment–they are not generating any income.

Although they are not actively generating income, they still need to file their accounts with the relevant authorities. These accounts include annual accounts and confirmation statements.

  • Annual accounts include a balance sheet and annual notes
  • Confirmation statement includes the details of officers, the registered office address, as well as shared capital

If and when the company becomes active once more, full accounts are required.

Micro-Entity

Micro-entities are small companies that meets two of the following criteria:

  • They have a turnover that’s under £632,000
  • Their balance sheet total is less than £316,000
  • They employ 10 or fewer people on average

It’s possible for micro-entities to file simple annual accounts which include a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and annual notes: this helps a small company to remain regulated.

Micro-entities accounts don’t always reflect the financial performance of the company, but they offer a guide to financial health and annual performance.

If your business has dormant or micro-entity status, it’s important to follow specific guidelines for these categories. If a simplified submission is valid there’s no point in submitting a full report.

Tips for New Businesses and First-Time Filers

Preparing your first set of accounts for Companies House as a new business owner? Here are some top tips:

  • Read guidance early – don’t leave it until right before the deadline
  • Seek help from an accountant or advisor if needed
  • Make sure you use the right accounts for your company size
  • Note your filing deadline and set reminders
  • Keep meticulous financial records throughout the year
  • Start early – don’t underestimate how long accounts take to prepare
  • Check and double check accounts for accuracy before filing
  • File online for fastest, easiest submission

Don’t worry! As long as you have an organised approach to your business accounts, tax and Company House bookkeeping shouldn’t be an issue. Use professional help if you have doubts.

Help with Preparing and Filing Your Accounts

Remember to always invest in professional bookkeeping if you have any doubts about filing. :

  • Accountants: Individuals and firms can arrange and file accounts on your behalf.
  • Company formation agents: These entities can provide setup assistance and ongoing filing help.
  • Online accounting software: Don’t be afraid to use the latest software tools to draw up your accounts and send them to the relevant authorities.
  • Government resources: Check out the Companies House website for full guidance of account filing requirements.
  • Business advisory services: Utilise the British Business Bank, Enterprise Nation, and local growth hubs for support and advice.

Self filing is very common, but don’t be afraid to contact professionals to check accounts and learn from the best. Excellent business accounting is critical.

Common Accounts Filing Mistakes to Avoid

Discover some of the most common errors to avoid when filing your business accounts.

  • Missing deadlines – This leads to fines and penalties.
  • Wrong accounts – make sure your accounts are for the right business entity.
  • Incomplete accounts – all accounts must be updated and valid.
  • Account components – all accounts must include notes and reports.
  • Correct formatting – ensure formatting and key details are correct.
  • Share accounts – business accounts should be sent to authorities and shareholders.
  • Dormant companies – don’t forget to file accounts for dormant companies.

It’s best to create a checklist of necessary steps to avoid missing anything and incurring penalties and losses. The list above is a useful starting point to avoid compliance errors.

In Summary

Filing accounts properly is a key duty for your business. It’s easy to ensure your accounts are correct with the right care and planning; also, ensure your stay on top of changing requirements as your company evolves.

  • Accurate annual accounts must be filed on time with Companies House
  • Different accounts apply based on your company’s size
  • Prepare thoroughly and file well before the deadline
  • Late filing leads to penalties – appeal quickly if needed
  • Share reports with shareholders and tax authorities
  • Adjustments apply to dormant and micro-entity companies
  • Seek expert help – don’t go it alone as a new filer
  • Avoid common errors like missed deadlines, incorrect accounts, or incomplete information

 

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