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Coronavirus: Filing deadlines

This guide summarises the temporary measures introduced relating to filing requirements at Companies House to support companies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This ICAEW Know-How article was created by the Financial Reporting Faculty.

Companies House is the register of limited companies in the UK. As well as incorporating and dissolving limited companies it registers the information that companies are legally required to supply, and makes that information available to the public. Companies are required to submit an annual confirmation statement, their accounts and to register certain events such as a change in the company’s directors or persons with significant control. Online services are available to register this information and companies are encouraged to use this facility during the coronavirus outbreak.    

Extensions to filing deadlines

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act (the Act) received royal assent on 25 June 2020 and, together with The Companies etc. (Filing Requirements) (Temporary Modifications) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations), introduces legislation to provide temporary easements of filing requirements for companies as a result of the pandemic.

For companies whose filing deadline falls between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021 (inclusive) and who have not shortened their accounting period, the Regulations extend their filing deadline by 3 months. This changes filing deadlines to:

  • twelve months from the end of the accounting reference period for a private company; and
  • nine months from the end of the accounting reference period for a public company.

For companies who have shortened their accounting period, the filing deadline becomes the later of:

  • nine or twelve months from the end of the accounting reference period end for a public or private company respectively; and
  • three months after the date of notice to shorten the accounting reference period.

Filing deadlines are updated automatically; it is no longer necessary to apply for an extension. The extension applies to the company’s original filing deadline; it is not added to an extension already granted by Companies House. 

Public companies

Under the Act, public limited companies (PLCs) with a filing deadline between 26 March 2020 and 29 June 2020 (inclusive), received an extension to the earlier of:

  • 30 September 2020; and
  • 12 months from the end of the accounting period.

Public companies whose original filing deadline fell between 26 March 2020 and 29 June 2020 (inclusive) did not receive a further extension as outlined above under the Regulations.

Public companies whose original filing deadline falls on or after 30 June 2020 now have nine months from their period end to file accounts as outline above, in accordance with the Regulations. (Although public companies with an original filing deadline between 30 June and 29 September 2020 were initially granted an extension under the Act, this was superseded by the extension to nine months after the period end granted by the Regulations.) 

Deadlines were extended retrospectively for public companies whose filing deadline fell between 26 March 2020 and 26 June 2020 (when the Act came into effect). Companies whose deadline fell between these dates and who were in default for not filing accounts may no longer have been in default once the deadline was changed.

Accounts must be filed by the new deadline, or the company will return to being in default. Late filing penalties that have been issued for deadlines between 26 March 2020 and 26 June 2020 will be reviewed and companies contacted if the penalty is incorrect.

Confirmation statement, event-driven filings and mortgage charges

The Regulations also extend the time given to companies to file:

The current 14-day deadline to file a confirmation statement and to make specific event-drive filings has been automatically extended to 42 days. 

For mortgage charges created on or after 6 June 2020, the period to deliver details of a charge automatically increases by 10 days, to 31 days starting from the day after the charge was created. However, this extension does not apply if the court has already extended the period to deliver the charge.

Temporary measures

The deadline extensions granted by the Act and the Regulations are temporary measures and expire on 5 April 2021. Filing deadlines that fall on or after 6 April 2021 will not be automatically extended.

Check your deadlines

Filing deadlines applicable to your company can be checked using Companies House online service.

Changing a company’s year end

A further measure to delay when accounts must be filed by would be to consider lengthening the company’s accounting period. Subsequent accounting period(s) could then be shortened to return the company’s year end to its original date. Requirements relating to changing a company’s year-end fall outside of the Act and Regulations discussed above.  Further information can be found here.

Late filing penalties

The law imposes an automatic penalty where filing deadlines are not met. Late filing penalties may be appealed. In normal circumstances, the registrar has very limited discretion to not collect a penalty.  However, if the late delivery of accounts was caused by the coronavirus outbreak, appeals against late filing penalties will be treated sympathetically. Breaks and additional support with payment plans for late filing penalties will also be provided.

Related resources

ICAEW’s Financial Reporting Faculty is recognized internationally as a leading authority on financial reporting matters. The faculty is responsible for formulating ICAEW policy and makes submissions to standard setters and other external bodies on behalf of ICAEW. The faculty provides an extensive range of practical guidance to its members on common financial reporting problems. Further resources can be found at icaew.com/financialreporting

ICAEW members, affiliates or members of staff in an eligible firm with member firm access may also discuss their specific situation with the Technical Advisory Service (TAS). Although a limited telephone service is available, TAS can be contacted on live web chat here or by email to technicalenquiries@icaew.com

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