When setting up and running a company, you will have regular involvement with Companies House. In this article, we look at the main functions of Companies House and what obligations limited companies have.
Companies House – Key Functions
Companies House is the regulatory body for the registration of companies, and the maintenance of company records. According to the organisation itself, the main functions of Companies House are to:
- incorporate and dissolve limited companies;
- examine and store company information delivered under the Companies Act and related legislation; and
- make this information available to the public.
There has been some type of company registration since 1844, although the incorporation process and administration of live companies is covered by law. Company registrations are legislated via the Companies Act 1985, 1989 and 2006 (ongoing). There are over 4 million limited companies currently registered in the UK, with over 600,000 new companies formed in 2019-20 alone.
The term ‘limited company’ includes several different company types, including Private Limited Companies (Ltd), Public Limited Companies (PLC), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP). All limited companies are must submit their annual accounts to Companies House each year, and complete an annual Confirmation Statement (which contains fundamental information about your company). You are also obliged to inform Companies House of any changes in company details (such as change of registered address, change in the share structure of the company, and any change in director(s) or company secretary details.
What are the main forms and documents you need to send to Companies House?
Most companies use Webfiling to submit changes to Companies House these days, although you still have the option to use paper versions. You can also view a complete list of all available forms, from incorporation to closing a company down.
1. Incorporation (Form IN01 + Memorandum & Articles of Association)
The very first interaction you will have with Companies House. This incorporates Form IN01, plus Memorandum and Articles of Association. Read more about these incorporation forms here.
2. Annual Accounts
All limited companies are legally obliged to keep accounting records and file their annual accounts with Companies House. Directors are personally responsible for ensuring that accounts are delivered, and can be penalised if the annual accounts are delivered late – even if your accountant is to blame. Your annual accounts must always be produced to a high standard, so they can be scanned electronically.
3. Confirmation Statement (previously known as your ‘Annual Return’)
Every company must file a Confirmation Statement each year – which provides a snapshot of the company at a point in time, including details relating to the directors, share capital, and registered address. You also need to keep a Persons of Significant Control (PSC) register, which informs the Registrar of any person or entity who has at least 25% control of the company.
4. Informing Companies House of changes to your limited company
Here are some of the main reasons why you would need to update the Registrar of any changes to your company:
- Change of company name.
- Change of company registered address.
- Appoint, terminate, or change the details of company directors and/or secretaries.
- Change the location or details related to your company records.
- Details on any special resolutions passed.
- Changes to the company’s share capital.
- Details of any charges held against the company.
- Applying to strike off (close) the company, and remove it from the register.
What happens if you don’t follow the rules?
If a company is operating but fails to provide company information accurately and on time, the officers of the company in question could face prosecution.
Remember, the company’s officers are legally responsible for completing these tasks, so they could face prosecution in their personal capacities if they don’t.
On top of the risk of prosecution, it’s important to remember that there is an automatic financial penalty whenever accounts are submitted late.
What this means is that all limited companies should have a strong and competent accounts team in place who can plan the submission of documents and avoid the problems that could arise in the event of late submissions or no submissions at all.