Filing your returns online with Companies House

Submitting your annual accounts and other important documents via the Companies House website is simpler and cheaper than the traditional paper method – and less likely to lead to mistakes. We explain how it works.

What are the benefits of filing online?

Companies House spokesperson Gary Townley says the online system, called WebFiling, is safer, quicker and less harmful to the environment, given it uses no paper.

“Many people are confused about what they can and can’t file online – in fact, you can file most documents, from your annual accounts to your confirmation statement, via our website,” Townley explains. If fewer submissions are made by post to the Companies House headquarters in Cardiff, it means that more of the organisation’s staff are able to work remotely – a fact that is particularly salient given the ‘firebreak’ restrictions introduced recently in Wales, and the prospect of further lockdown measures being imposed over the course of the winter.

“In addition, it is slightly cheaper to file online,” Townley says. “Another benefit is that the rejection rate for online submissions is lower than for paper – with the digital system, you can’t move on to the next section until the current one has been completed, whereas with paper filing, there is no way of telling someone that they have forgotten to complete every part of it before it’s sent to us.”

“You can file most documents, from your annual accounts to your confirmation statement, via our website”

Gary Townley, Companies House

Businesses can also opt to receive email reminders of the deadlines for specific filings such as annual accounts or confirmation statements, which can help them avoid late-submission penalties.

“The take-up of the digital filing system has been really good, but there are still people who use paper and we would like them to come around,” Townley says. “A lot of accountants still file with paper on their clients’ behalf, so we are trying to raise awareness among them as well.”

How do I get started?

The first step businesses need to take to start filing online is to visit the Companies House website. Here, you can register your email address and choose a password.

You will be asked to provide further information such as your company number and where the company was registered – England/Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. You can then have an authentication code sent to you by post at either your company’s registered address or a home address of one of the company’s directors – which may be easier given the increase in remote working since the start of the pandemic. This code should arrive within five working days.

For a video guide to how to register for WebFiling, click here.

What information can I file online?

Most information can now be submitted to Companies House via its online service. For the majority of businesses, the key requirements every year are to submit a set of annual accounts and a confirmation statement.

Annual accounts: Filing annual accounts – in either their full or abridged form – is a legal requirement for limited companies. Typically, they will include a balance sheet statement and may also contain a profit and loss account as well as a directors’ report. You may also need to confirm that your accounts have been prepared in accordance with the relevant accounting standards – something that your accountant should be able to help with.

For a video guide to submitting annual accounts, click here.

Confirmation statement: This is another document that needs to be reviewed and, if necessary, updated on an annual basis. The confirmation statement helps Companies House ensure the information it holds about your business is correct, and covers details such as whether your businesses has been listed on a stock exchange, what your registered office address is, what your principal business activity is, as well as details about your company directors.

For a video guide to submitting a confirmation statement, click here.

By registering with Companies House, you can also check your company overview – this shows you what documentation needs to be submitted and by what date, for example, as well as giving you the opportunity to change directors’ details or request email notifications of filing dates.

Finally, if your company is not currently trading, you will nonetheless be required to file dormant accounts on an annual basis. For more details about submitting dormant accounts, click here.

How have filing deadlines changed in response to the pandemic?

In June 2020, the government passed new legislation that gives some businesses extra time to file their accounts. Limited companies whose filing deadline originally fell between 27 June this year and 5 April 2021 will have an extra three months to submit their accounts. (Companies with earlier deadlines may already have benefited from an extension.)

Meanwhile, companies are also entitled to extra time when it comes to submitting a confirmation statement: the deadline of 14 days after the review period (the period the statement covers) has been extended to 42 days.

To find out the relevant deadlines for your business, you can check the Companies House register here. You don’t need to have gone through the registration process described above to use this service.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

scroll to top