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What is an Annual Return form used for?

January 21, 2013

Each year, all UK registered companies are required by law to complete and submit an Annual Return to Companies House. This form provides a snapshot of relevant company information at the time of submission.

What is an Annual Return?

Form AR01 provides Companies House with information relating to every UK company, at a given moment in time, each year. The information relates to each company official (directors and company secretary if one has been appointed), the share capital, shareholders, and the registered address. The Annual Return must be submitted within 28 days of the date of company incorporation or the anniversary of the made-up date of the last return.

The company director(s) are responsible for ensuring that the Annual Return is completed and submitted on time. Failure to do so could result in steps being taken to strike off the company from the register, so make sure you do not miss the annual deadline.

By far the easiest way to submit Form AR01 is online (your accountant may well offer to do this on your behalf), although you can still use the paper form, which is available from Companies House. You will be charged £14 if you file online, and £40 if you elect to go down the paper route.

What information is contained on the Annual Return?

Alongside the company name, registered number, and registered address, the Annual Return also captures the following details about the companies on the register:

  • The made-up date of the Return (usually the date of company formation).
  • The type of company (private, or public).
  • Principal business activities of the company.
  • Details of the company director(s) and secretary (if one has been appointed).
  • A statement of capital if relevant, plus details of all shareholders.
  • Whether or not the company has traded during the past year.

You should already have updated Companies House if your company address, or names/addresses of its officers have changed during the past year, however you also need to provide details of any changes to the share capital which may have occurred during the previous 12 months.

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.

Further information

You can read more about the annual filing requirements of limited companies in Companies House brochure GP2.

Your limited company accountant may well file your Annual Return on your behalf, however it is ultimately the responsibility of the company director(s) to ensure that it is filed accurately and before the deadline.