If you run a limited company, you will deal with Companies House fairly regularly. In this article, we look at Companies House’s main functions and the obligations company directors have.
Companies House – Key Functions
Companies House is the regulatory body for the registration of companies. It is tasked with the maintenance of 4m+ company records. According to the organisation itself, its main functions 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 are enshrined in law.
Company registrations are legislated for via the Companies Act 1985, 1989 and 2006.
There are over 4 million limited companies currently registered in the UK, with over 600,000 new companies formed in 2022-23 alone. Interestingly though, many of these companies are not ‘active’.
The term ‘limited company’ includes several different company types, including:
- Private Limited Companies (LTD)
- Public Limited Companies (PLC)
- Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)
All limited companies must submit their annual accounts to Companies House, and an annual Confirmation Statement (which contains fundamental information about your company).
Company officers are also obliged to inform Companies House of any changes in company details.
Typical scenarios include; a change of registered address, a change in the share structure of the company, and any change in director(s) or company secretary details.
It is worth noting that if you’re a sole trader (self employed), you do not need to deal with Companies House.
What are the main documents you need to send to Companies House?
Most companies use Webfiling to submit changes to Companies House these days. However, 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)
This is the very first interaction you have with Companies House.
When you set up a company, the paperwork you submit includes Form IN01, plus a Memorandum and Articles of Association. Read more about these incorporation forms here.
2. Annual Accounts
All limited companies must 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
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 fails to provide company information accurately and on time, the company’s officers face prosecution. The officers (usually directors) are legally responsible for completing these tasks, so could be prosecuted personally if they don’t.
In addition to the risk of prosecution, there is an automatic financial penalty whenever accounts are submitted late.
This is why – when you become a director for the first time – you should get to know your responsibilities and your filing deadlines.
Hiring a good accountant is also an important step. But – ultimately – it is you (as the director) who is ultimately responsible for the running of your company, and meeting its statutory obligations.
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