A question that we’re often asked is, “What date should my accounts be made up to?” It’s a very important question, as a company sending its accounts to us late will get an automatic fine.
In this post I’ll explain the basics for you and include some examples that I hope will help you gain insight into the process. However, this is only a summary, so for further advice you should always refer to our guidance for limited companies partnerships and other company types. And, remember, you can check your accounting reference period and filing date by using the Companies House service.
Every company must prepare accounts that report on the performance and activities of the company during the financial year. The financial year starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new company, on the day of incorporation. Financial years are determined by reference to an Accounting Reference Period (ARPs). The financial period ends on the accounting reference date.
For all new companies, the first accounting reference date is set as the last day in the month in which its first anniversary falls. The subsequent accounting reference dates will automatically be on the same date each year. A company may make its accounts up to 7 days either side of their accounting reference date.
Here is an example:
|Company incorporated||First accounting reference date|
|7 January 2015||31 January 2016|
|23 June 2015||30 June 2016|
|1 December 2015||31 December 2016|
It’s very easy to change the accounting reference period, by using the appropriate online form. You can change the current or previous accounting period and there is no limit to shortening, but you can only extend once in five years (except in certain circumstances, see chapter 2 Life of a company: annual requirements).
The form must be received within the delivery time of the accounting period if you wish to change the date and you cannot change it if the accounts are already overdue.
Delivery times for filing accounts – this table should help you:
|Deadline for first accounts (if covering a period of 12 months or more)|
|Private company/Limited Liability Partnership||21 months*|
|Public Limited Company||18 months*|
|Normal deadline (after your first year)|
|Private company/Limited Liability Partnership||9 months*|
|Public Limited Company||6 months*|
|*or 3 months from the accounting reference date (ARD), whichever is longer.|
Here's an example of filing dates:
|Accounting Reference Date||Last date for filing|
|4 March 2015||4 December 2015|
|30 April 2015||31 January 2016|
For a new company:
|Private company incorporated||7 January 2015|
|Accounting Reference Date||31 January 2016|
|Accounting Reference Period of first accounts||7 January 2015 to 31 January 2016|
|Last date for filing||7 October 2016|
Here's another example for you:
|Accounting Reference Date||31 January 2015|
|Last accounts filed||31 January 2015|
|Accounting Reference Period of accounts||1 February 2015 to 31 January 2016|
|Last date for filing||31 October 2016|
We always recommend that you send accounts to us well within the filing times. Please remember: if you’re unsure you can always get in touch with us. I hope you’ve found this blog useful.