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Understanding Annual Returns

Limited Company Accountancy Service

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Every company must deliver an annual return to Companies House. The company's director(s) and the secretary (where applicable) are responsible for ensuring they deliver the annual return to Companies House within 28 days after the made up date; either the anniversary of incorporation of a company or the last annual return. It is a criminal offence not to deliver the company's annual return within this time frame.

An Annual Return is a snapshot of certain company information at the anniversary of the limited company’s incorporation. It is a separate document from a company's annual accounts.

The information is filed with Companies House and made publicly available, to allow anyone to verify the details and legitimacy of the company. Full information can be found on the Companies House website.

Annual Return Deadlines

Every limited company must deliver an Annual Return to Companies House within 28 days of the anniversary of its incorporation, or of the made up date of the previous Annual Return registered at Companies House.

Companies House send a reminder to your limited company’s registered address a few days before the return is due.

It is the responsibility of the company directors and company secretary to file the Annual Return. Failing to do so within 28 days of the anniversary of incorporation is a criminal offence, for which penalties may be incurred.

On average more than 1,000 directors are prosecuted each year for failing to deliver accounts and returns to the registrar on time. Persistent failure to deliver statutory documents on time may also lead to a director being disqualified from taking part in the management of a company for a specific period.

Information required on an Annual Return

  • Company name and registration number.
  • Registered office address.
  • Single inspection address and which of the registers are kept there, if not at the registered office.
  • Principal business activity.
  • Name and service address of the company secretary where one is appointed.
  • Name, date of birth, service address, nationality, country of residence and business occupation for all directors.
  • Company’s ‘made up date’.
  • Where the company has share capital, a statement of capital is required along with information on past and present shareholders.

What is the SIC code used to define principal business activity?

The UK Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) is a numerical classification that Companies House adopted to identify principal business activities of companies. It is required that it is stated on the Annual Return each year.

The list of categories used by Companies House can be found on its website.