This article is about the annual return, which Companies House replaced with the confirmation statement from 30 June 2016. While the two are similar in purpose, there are important differences between them.
An annual return can only be filed for periods up to 29 June 2016. If a return is to be made up to a date on or after 30 June, it must instead be filed as a confirmation statement.
People sometimes confuse the Annual Return and the company annual accounts. Though both must be filed with Companies House, they are separate documents with different filing deadlines. Here we offer a simple introduction to the Companies House Annual Return
What is an Annual Return?
An Annual Return is a snapshot of general information about a company’s directors, secretary (where appointed), registered office address, principal business activities, shareholders and share capital. It can also contain details of certain documents the company must retain, where these are kept in a different location to the registered office address.
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Which companies must deliver an Annual Return?
All limited companies must deliver an Annual Return on form AR01 to Companies House at least once every 12 months. This is required even if the company is dormant. Limited liability partnerships (LLP) must also complete an Annual Return form, although we focus on the limited company Annual Return here.
Who is responsible for filing the Annual Return?
The company’s director(s) and company secretary (if appointed) are responsible for filing the Companies House Annual Return. A failure to file an Annual Return is a criminal offence which can result in all directors (and where appointed the company secretary) being fined personally in the criminal courts.
What are the deadlines for filing the Annual Return?
The Annual Return gives a snapshot of company data as at the legal return date. The legal return date or ‘made-up’ date, should not be more than 12 months after either:
- incorporation of the company, if this is the first Annual Return;
- the date of the last Annual Return.
If you fail to deliver the Annual Return, Companies House will eventually take steps to dissolve the company and strike it from the register.
Can I change the Annual Return due date?
Yes – there is no restriction to the number of times you may change the Annual Return date, provided that the next Annual Return date is not more than 12 months after that of the last submitted return. The Annual Return should be delivered within 28 days of the chosen return date.
People sometimes mistakenly believe that the Annual Return date and the accounting reference date are correlated. This is not the case, and you are free to choose any Annual Return date, provided that it is not more than 12 months after the last return.
Can I make changes to company information using the Annual Return?
Generally, the details on Companies House Annual Returns should confirm the company data already held on the Companies House public record for the legal return date. You can use the Companies House Annual Return form to update the company’s principal business activities or to include details of transfers of shares made during the period. However, most changes, including change to registered office or appointments, will require an additional submission alongside the AR01 form.
How can Inform Direct make your Annual Return submission easy?
With Inform Direct the whole process is straightforward:
- The Dashboard clearly highlights all key filing deadlines and Inform Direct will e-mail you to remind you that your Companies House Annual Return deadline is approaching.
- Inform Direct has streamlined the Annual Return process into simple bite-sized steps.
- If you have kept your records updated during the year, Annual Return filing is as easy as confirming the current position is correct. However, Inform Direct also allows you to update records as you complete each step if changes are required, avoiding the need for additional separate submissions.
- Inform Direct electronically submits your completed Annual Return online to Companies House.
- The Companies House Annual Return filing fee needn’t be paid as a separate transaction.
- Inform Direct automatically updates your statutory registers for changes to company data and ensures that they agree with your Annual Return submission.
You can read more about how Inform Direct can make your next annual return easy. When you submit your annual return using Inform Direct, we also give you completely free use of our company secretarial package to manage your company records.
In the second of our articles on the Companies House annual return filing process, we provide a simple checklist detailing all of the information you are required to disclose in your Annual Return.
Want a simpler way to file your Annual Return? Welcome to Inform Direct.