Once a year, Companies House ask for your annual return. This is a report about your company, in which you disclose information about changes, or confirm that none have taken place over that particular year. This is how the Registrar monitors company activities. It also acts as a snapshot for the public to see identities of directors and shareholders and whether they might have changed.
It is a criminal offence to fail to submit your annual return, or to send it in late. The company directors could be prosecuted if this occurs, as they are seen as being responsible for the business activities, or the Registrar may well strike the company off, thinking that it is no longer active.
Deadline for completing an Annual Return
Your return must be submitted to Companies House 28 days after your company’s first anniversary of being incorporated. This makes it one year and 28 days from your last annual return.
You can, if you wish, bring forward the date of your return but this has a knock on effect for the years to follow, bringing their dates forward too.
Inside the Annual Return
Your annual return should detail the company name, its number and registered office and its main business activity. The directors and company secretary should also have their details included on the return. The document will need the type of company specified on it; for example whether it is limited by shares or guarantee or stating if it is public or private.
If your company has share capital, details of this need to be included on the return such as who owns it and how it might be broken down.
If the registered office is not the same address as the one where the company books are housed, you must provide an alternative address on the form showing where these can be found and inspected.
A ‘made up’ date must also be included. This refers to the date at which the information on the form was given and considered to be wholly correct. If the company needs to be explored, the annual return date can be referred to easily and give an immediate snapshot of the business.
An example of this would be if you were reading an annual return in December that was originally filed in May, you could glance at the history of files about the company and see if new directors had been appointed or old ones resigned. You could also see if any of the shareholders had changed. If any of these changes had happened, you could then seek out the forms to help you complete the overall picture that the annual return has suggested.