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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/late-filing-penalties/late-filing-penalties
This guidance applies to UK registered:
- private companies
- public companies
- limited liability partnerships (LLPs)
We use the term ‘company’ which includes LLPs unless stated otherwise.
About late filing penalties
Late filing penalties were introduced in 1992 to encourage directors to file their accounts and reports on time, because this information is required for the public record.
All companies must send their accounts and reports to Companies House every year, whether:
- private or public
- large or small
- trading or non-trading
If you submit accounts late, the law imposes an automatic penalty. The period allowed to file your accounts depends on whether these are your first accounts since incorporation or subsequent accounts.
Your first accounts
Private companies and LLPs
If your first accounts cover a period of more than 12 months, you must deliver them to Companies House within 21 months of the date of incorporation, or 3 months from the accounting reference date - whichever is longer.
If your first accounts cover a period of more than 12 months, you must deliver them to Companies House within 18 months of the date of incorporation, or 3 months from the accounting reference date - whichever is longer.
In subsequent years, a private company or LLP has 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period to deliver its accounts. A public company has 6 months.
However if you change the accounting reference period the filing time may be reduced.
See our accounts guidance for more information on accounting reference dates and filing deadlines.
If you’re a director of the company, or designated member of the LLP - you’re personally responsible for delivering your accounts before the time allowed runs out. Delivery means actual receipt at Companies House in the correct format.
A penalty is automatically imposed if the accounts are late.
Late filing penalty fees
The penalty only applies to accounts. The level of the penalty depends on how late the accounts reach Companies House.
|Length of period (measured from the date the accounts are due)||Penalty for a private company or LLP||Penalty for a public company|
|Not more than 1 month||£150||£750|
|More than 1 month but not more than 3 months||£375||£1,500|
|More than 3 months but not more than 6 months||£750||£3,000|
|More than 6 months||£1,500||£7,500|
The penalty will be doubled if accounts are filed late in 2 successive financial years (beginning on or after 6 April 2008).
Example - a private company with an accounting period ending 30 September 2019
The company must deliver acceptable accounts by 30 June 2020 to avoid a late filing penalty. If they were not delivered to Companies House until 15 July 2020, the company would get a £150 penalty.
If the company also delivers accounts late for the subsequent period ending 30 September 2020, it would get a £300 late filing penalty.
Consequences of not filing
Not filing your confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is a criminal offence - and directors or LLP designated members could be personally fined in the criminal courts.
Failing to pay your late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings. Any criminal proceedings for not filing confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is separate from (and in addition to) any late filing penalties issued by Companies House against the company.
There’s no penalty for filing your confirmation statements or annual returns late - but the registrar could take steps to strike off your company.
Avoiding a penalty
Allow enough time to make sure your accounts reach Companies House within the deadline. It does not matter if your filing deadline expires on a Sunday or Bank Holiday - you must still file your accounts by this date.
First class post does not guarantee next day delivery. You should consider using guaranteed methods of delivery to make sure your accounts arrive on time - especially if your filing deadline is near.
To help you file on time:
- mark your diary or calendar to remind you in good time of the filing deadlines
- register for email reminders from Companies House
- if appropriate, instruct your accountants in good time and remind them of the need to prepare and deliver your accounts on time
If you have any doubts about your deadline, you can use Companies House service to check when your accounts are due.
Delivering accounts to Companies House
Limited companies can file accounts online.
LLPs must send annual accounts directly to Companies House.
Extending the time for delivering the accounts
You should take appropriate measures to ensure your accounts are filed on time. But if there’s a special reason why the accounts might be filed late (such as an unforeseen event), you can apply for more time to file your accounts if your filing deadline has not passed.
An extension will only be granted if the reasons are exceptional.
When accounts are incorrect
We cannot accept accounts until they meet the requirements of the Companies Act.
For example, if the balance sheet is not signed, we’ll return the accounts for amendment. But if you file the corrected accounts late, the company will get a late filing penalty.
To avoid this, you should deliver accounts as soon as they’re complete, and as early as possible before the last date for delivery.
Knowing when a penalty has been imposed
If you deliver your accounts late, we’ll automatically issue a penalty notice to the registered office address.
The penalty notice gives details of the penalty (or penalties) imposed against the company. It shows the last date for filing, the date your accounts were filed and the level of the penalty imposed.
Paying your penalty
We’re closely following government guidance for working safely during coronavirus.
We have reduced numbers in our offices to maintain social distancing - so we’re not able to take credit card payments over the telephone.
If your late filing penalty occurred on or after 30 March 2020, you may be able to pay your late filing penalty online. You will find a link to the online service on your penalty notice.
You should pay by BACS instead if:
- your penalty occurred before 30 March 2020
- you have multiple penalties
- you have a part paid penalty
- you have a penalty under an instalment plan
You can make a BACS transfer to:
Sort code: 60 70 80
Account number: 10031154
For overseas payments:
Swift Code: NW BK GB 2L
When paying by BACS you must:
- clearly state the company number on the bank transfer and use it as the reference
- email your remittance advice to email@example.com on the same day as the payment is sent - clearly stating the company name and number
This payment method is only applicable to this service.
For advice or more information, email our LFP Finance Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do not pay the penalty, we’ll ask our debt collectors to take action. Ultimately the matter will be decided in the County Court or Sheriff Court, where you’ll have the opportunity to file a defence.
You may consider getting professional advice. We may seek to recover our legal costs if the court finds in favour of the registrar.
Requesting payment by instalments
If you have difficulty paying the penalty, we’ll normally accept payment over a short period by monthly instalments. You must contact us to request payment by instalments, explaining why you cannot pay the penalty immediately.
If possible, you should make your appeal or instalment request in writing. The safest and quickest way is to email email@example.com.
If you cannot apply in writing, contact us on 0303 1234 500.
Restoring a company to the register
If you restore a company to the register after it has been struck off and dissolved, it will not have to pay penalties that happened during the period it was dissolved.
You’ll need to pay:
- unpaid penalties outstanding on accounts delivered late before the company was dissolved
- penalties due for accounts delivered on restoration, if the accounts were overdue at the date the company was dissolved
Appealing a penalty
You can appeal against a penalty, but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional.
The registrar has very limited discretion not to collect a penalty. It may be applied when an unforeseen event happens at a critical time - for example, a fire destroying records a few days before the filing deadline.
Your appeal is unlikely to be successful if it’s based solely on the examples below:
- your company is dormant
- you cannot afford to pay
- your accountant was ill
- you relied on your accountant
- these are your first accounts
- you are not familiar with the filing requirements
- your company or its directors have financial difficulties (including bankruptcy)
- your accounts were delayed or lost in the post
- the directors or LLP members live (or were travelling) overseas
- another director or LLP member is responsible for preparing the accounts
How to send your appeal
It takes around 30 minutes. You’ll need:
- the company number
- the company authentication code for online filing
- the penalty reference
- the reason for the appeal
- documents that support the reason for the appeal (optional)
We’ll normally reply within 30 working days, and will suspend recovery action while we consider your appeal.
If you cannot get a company authentication code
You can email your appeal to firstname.lastname@example.org - you must include all information and evidence.
Only send your appeal by email if you cannot use our online service. We’re currently receiving a high volume of correspondence and emails.
If you need accessibility support and cannot appeal online or in writing, contact us on 0303 1234 500.
If your appeal is rejected you can contact the Senior Casework Unit, Late Filing Penalties Department at the appropriate Companies House office in Cardiff, Edinburgh or Belfast.
If the senior casework unit upholds the penalty, you can ask for the Independent adjudicators to review your case. Do not contact the adjudicators until you have heard from the senior casework unit.
Parliament decided that discretion resides solely with the registrar. The registrar’s discretion is limited and the adjudicators cannot force them to reverse their decision to collect a penalty.