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The Annual Return – Form AR01, what it is and how to file it with Companies House

November 21, 2014

All limited companies in the UK must submit an Annual Return form (AR01) to Companies House every year.

The Annual Return provides a snapshot of general information about your company, including details of directors and company secretary if you have appointed one, the registered office, share capital and shareholdings.

The Return is submitted on Form AR01 and provides Companies House with information relating to every UK company, at a given moment in time, each year.

The annual filing date for a company is typically the anniversary of the date it was first incorporated.

Company directors are legally required to file an Annual Return

As a limited company director, you are legally obliged to file an Annual Return for your company. In fact, it is a criminal offence to fail to deliver your Annual Return on time.

If you do not submit your return, or file more than 28 days after your company’s ‘made up date’ you will face penalties. Companies House could even have your company struck off the company register.

Each year, Companies House will write to your registered address informing you of the need to submit your Annual Return. You can ask for a paper return, or you can file online.

Filing your Annual Return online

By far the easiest way to submit your Annual Return is online through the Companies House WebFiling system. It is pretty straightforward so you can file it yourself, or your accountant may well offer to do this on your behalf.

Understandably, Companies House is keen to promote online filing which is more efficient. This is reflected in the filing fees charged, with online submission of an Annual Return via its WebFiling system costing just £13.

Another benefit of filing online is that you can receive ‘e-Reminders’ which can give you a timely prod when your Annual Return is due.

You can read more about the online ‘WebFiling’ service on the Companies House website here.

Submitting a paper Annual Return with Form AR01

Although Companies House steer you towards online filing, you can still submit your Annual Return with the paper form AR01. You will be charged £40, significantly more than the online filing fee, if you decide to go down the paper route.

If you haven’t already registered with Companies House for WebFiling you will need to do so before you can use the service. To complete the registration they will post a password to the company’s registered office address, so you need to allow time for this.

What is included on an Annual Return form?

The following information is captured on an Annual Return form:

  • Company Name
  • Company registration number
  • Company type (private, public, etc.)
  • Company registered address
  • Principal business activities
  • Company Secretary details (if you have one)
  • Company director details
  • The ‘made-up date’ (the date to which the return is made up)
  • Details on the issued share capital
  • Shareholder details
  • Whether or not the company has traded during the past year

Details of share capital and shareholdings

If your company has shareholders, you must provide a statement of capital with your Annual Return.

This statement discloses the number of shares in existence, the nominal value of the shares, the amount paid up or unpaid on each share, and the characteristics of each class of share in issue.

You must also provide a full list of shareholders in the first AR01 after incorporation and every third Return thereafter. However, you must always provide any share transfer information relating to the previous year.

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