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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 pandemic.

Filing deadlines return to normal

From 6 April 2021, companies must file documents at Companies House by their usual filing deadlines. For their accounts and reports, this means:

  • Private companies must file within nine months of the end of their accounting reference period;
  • Public companies must file within six months of the end of their accounting reference period.

Companies may, however, apply for a 3-month extension to their accounts filing deadline. Companies that are eligible and that cite COVID-19-related issues in their application, will be granted an extension. It should be noted that the law only allows a maximum filing period of 12 months. Therefore, companies that have already had their accounts filing deadline extended may not be eligible to apply for a further  extension (see examples below).

The temporary changes to filing deadlines for annual accounts and other documents outlined below, introduced to support companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, expired on 5 April 2021.

Temporary 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), introduced legislation to provide temporary easements of filing requirements for companies as a result of the pandemic.

For companies whose filing deadline fell between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021 (inclusive) and who did not shorten their accounting period, the Regulations extended their filing deadline by 3 months. This changed 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 had shortened their accounting period, the filing deadline became 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 were updated automatically; it was not necessary to apply for an extension. The extension applied to the company’s original filing deadline; it was not added to an extension already granted by Companies House.

Public companies

Public companies whose original filing deadline fell between 30 June 2020 and 5 April 2021 (inclusive) had nine months from their period end to file accounts as outline above, in accordance with the Regulations.

Public companies with a filing deadline between 26 March 2020 and 29 June 2020 (inclusive) received an extension under the Act to the earlier of:

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

They did not receive a further extension as outlined above under the Regulations.

Examples

Example 1
A private company has an accounting reference date (ARD) of 31 March 2020. Their deadline for filing accounts would usually be 31 December 2020. Under the temporary measures, the company received an automatic 3-month extension, resulting in a deadline of 31 March 2021. The company cannot apply for a further extension as the law only allows a maximum filing period of 12 months.

Example 2
A private company has an ARD of 31 July 2020. Their deadline for filing accounts would usually be 30 April 2021. As this deadline falls after 5 April 2021, the company will not get an automatic extension. The company can, however, apply for a 3-month extension citing COVID-19 issues to give them the maximum filing period allowed. The extension must be applied for before 30 April 2021.

Example 3
A public company has an ARD of 30 September 2020. Their deadline for filing accounts would usually be 31 March 2021. Under the temporary measures, the company will have received an automatic 3-month extension, resulting in a deadline of 30 June 2021. If required, the company could apply for a further 3-month extension if they cite COVID-19 issues, as the maximum filing period of 12 months has not yet been reached.

Example 4
A public company has an ARD of 31 October 2020. Their deadline for filing accounts would usually be 30 April 2021. As this deadline falls after 5 April 2021, the company will not get an automatic extension. The company can however, apply for a 3-month extension citing COVID-19 issues. The extension must be applied for before 30 April 2021.

Confirmation statement, event-driven filings and mortgage charges

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

The usual 14-day deadline to file a confirmation statement and to make specific event-driven filings was automatically extended to 42 days. There are no further automatic extensions for confirmation statement or event-driven filings after 5 April 2021; documents should be filed by the usual 14-day deadline.

For mortgage charges created on or after 6 June 2020, the period to deliver details of a charge automatically increased by 10 days, to 31 days starting from the day after the charge was created. However, the extension did not apply if the court had already extended the period to deliver the charge. The automatic extension to 31 days applies for mortgage charges created up to and including 4 April 2021.

For mortgage charges created after 4 April 2021, the period to deliver details of a charge reverts to 21 days as normal, starting the day after the charge was created.

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.

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.

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