As a limited company director you are responsible for making sure that your firm sends in its returns to companies house.

What you have to send varies between companies so we thought it would be useful to write up a guide to what needs to be submitted and when.

The first thing to put into your diary is the Annual Return. This is a simple report of the company officers and other basic information such as registered address and SIC codes.

The Annual Return has to be made within 28 days of the anniversary of either the incorporation of the company or its last return. If you would like to do this in paper (or most expensive) form then you’ll need form AR01 but you’re probably better off using the hand Companies House Webfiling or Software filing services.

The fees are £40 for a paper filing and £13 for e-filing.

You will have to apply to Companies House if you want to change the company’s accounting reference date. Again this can be done through web or software filing or using form AA01. There are some restrictions as to what why and how you can change this so you should check your individual situation with a professional.

If you change your directors or the company secretary during the year, or if their details change such as their residential address then you’ll again need to inform Companies House. If you are doing this on behalf of an individual then you’ll use form CH01 but if the director is another corporate body then use form CH02. Again, filing online using the webs services is probably the quicker and safer option.

When you have produced a set of accounts, each year your company will need to do two things. Firstly you’ll need to complete a self assessment return for HMRC and secondly you’ll have to lodge a set of your accounts with Companies House.

It’s a little known fact that there is no legal requirement for a company to use a qualified Chartered Accountant but it makes sense to use a professional because the penalties for errors can often cost more than getting the accounts done properly in the first place.

What a firm has to send to Companies House varies depending upon its size. There are four ‘regimes’ under which companies submit; Micro Companies, Small Companies, Medium Companies and Large Companies.

A micro entity can claim significant exemptions to the filing rules under the Small Companies (Micro-Entities’ Accounts) Regulations 2013.

Micro entity accounts don’t need to be audited and as stated earlier don’t have to be prepared by a qualified accountant. Whilst the company must prepare the standard balance sheet, Profit and Loss,Notes and Directors Report, the amount of information submitted to Companies House is heavily reduced with a micro entity only having to present a basic balance sheet signed by the directors and with a few formal statements.


A micro-entity must meet at least two of the following conditions:

  • turnover must be not more than £632,000
  • the balance sheet total must be not more than £316,000
  • the average number of employees must be not more than 10

This regime is particularly useful for example where companies are set up for management of blocks of residential flats, where a firm is in the early stage of startup or formed as a lifestyle business.

Small companies also benefit from an easier reporting requirement with Companies House commensurate with their lesser available resources.

To qualify for this a small company must meet at least two of the following conditions:

  • annual turnover must be not more than £6.5 million
  • the balance sheet total must be not more than £3.26 million
  • the average number of employees must be not more than 50

Where these conditions are met then the firm will be able to submit much reduced information. It’s again important to note that the company is still required to prepare the full accounts with notes and reports for distribution to the members, but that the submission is lessened.

Companies submitting under Companies House rules can send in an abbreviated balance sheet (unless they are reporting under international accounting rules) and don’t have to include a directors report or a strategic report. If the company is under the audit threshold then they will also forego the Auditors Report.

There are some exceptions to this rule. If the business is in a regulated industry such as insurance or banking or if it is part of a larger group.

To be a medium-sized company, you must meet at least two of the following conditions:

  • annual turnover must be no more than £25.9 million
  • the balance sheet total must be no more than £12.9 million
  • the average number of employees must be no more than 250

Whilst this will still be a sizeable organisation, a medium sized firm can still claim some exemptions such as omitting KPIs from a strategic report and can submit a reduced profit and loss account.

It is also important to note that Charities and not for profit companies no longer have their own regimes under which to submit accounts to Companies House. The firms must submit according to the regime that they would fall into were they any normal firm.

Submitting your information to Companies House is a fairly easy and painless process provided you get the timing and format right. Using the services of a professional accountant will make the whole process so much smoother and could avoid a nasty penalty for non compliance.

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