If you run a limited company, once every year you must update Companies House with a snapshot of information relating to your company’s affairs. This is achieved via the Annual Return form (AR01).
By law, the company’s director(s) must complete the Annual Return within 28 days of the company’s anniversary of incorporation, or the made-up date of the previous Return.
Despite what you may think, failure to submit the AR01 on time is a criminal offence, so make a reminder in your diary to ensure you submit the form on-time (or double-check with your accountant that they have done so).
What information does the Annual Return contain?
The Return provides Companies House, the registrar of all companies in the UK, with the following information:
- Company name.
- Company registered number.
- Company type (public or private).
- Company registered address.
- The date to which the Annual Return is made up to.
- Details of the company’s officers (directors and secretary, if you have appointed one).
- Details of the company’s share capital, including any changes since the previous Return was completed.
- A list of the company’s shareholders should be included with the first ever Return, and every third Return subsequently.
How to complete your Annual Return
Typically around one month before your company’s made-up date, Companies House will send a reminder to the company’s registered office – usually your home address (if you’re a director), or your accountant’s premises. However, as a director, you are ultimately responsible for meeting the annual deadline, even in the unlikely event that if the reminder gets ‘lost in the post’.
There are several ways to submit the Return – manually (paper form), or electronically. For almost all contractors, your accountant will typically submit the return as part of their general duties – via software filing, or WebFiling, but double-check that this service is included in your monthly fee.
Otherwise, you can download a blank Form AR01 here.
How much does it cost?
Your accountant will be charged £13 for submitting a return via software filing or WebFiling, otherwise, a hefty £40 will be charged for submitting a paper form.
You can read more about the Annual Return process, and the other annual requirements of limited companies in ‘Life of a Company’ (GP2) on the Companies House site.
If you make any changes to the company’s affairs during the year, such as officer appointments/resignations, a change to the company’s registered address, or a change to the company’s total share capital, you need to inform Companies House separately. You can find out more via the link above.