The period allowed for filing your company’s accounts depends on whether you are filing your first accounts since incorporation or subsequent accounts:

Your First Accounts

If your company’s first accounts cover a period of more than 12 months, you must deliver them to Companies House within 21 months of the date of incorporation or 3 months from the accounting reference date, whichever is longer. If the period is less than 12 months, you most deliver them to Companies House 9 months after the year end.

Subsequent Accounts

In subsequent years a private company has 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period in which to deliver its accounts. Deliver means actual receipt at Companies House in the correct format.

Late Filing Penalties – issued to the company

Not more than 1 month                                                                         £150

More than 1 month but not more than 3 months                                  £375

More than 3 months but not more than 6 months                                £750

More than 6 months                                                                              £1,500

The penalties will be doubled if a company files its accounts late in 2 successive financial years.

These late filing penalties are not the same as fines imposed on company directors for non-filing of annual returns and accounts. As it is the directors’ responsibility to file all returns and accounts for the company the registrar may decide that if a company does not pay it’s penalties it will start criminal proceedings against the directors. The fine can be up to £5,000 for each offence plus a criminal record. The registrar may also take steps to strike the company off the public record.

Late Filing Penalty Appeals

You can appeal against a penalty, but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional. This would be if an unforeseen catastrophe strikes the company at a critical time. (i.e. A fire destroying the records a few days before the filing deadline.)

The registrar cannot consider an appeal in the following circumstances: – 

  • Your company is dormant;
  • You cannot afford to pay;
  • Your accountant was ill;
  • You relied on your accountant;
  • These are your first accounts;
  • You are not familiar with the filing requirements;
  • Your company or its directors have financial difficulties (including bankruptcy);
  • Your accounts were delayed or lost in the post;
  • The directors live or were travelling overseas;
  • Another director is responsible for preparing the accounts.

 If a company has difficulty in paying the penalty it can be paid by monthly instalments. These are usually over 4 months and exceptionally over 10 months depending on the amount you have to pay.