Companies House – what is it?

Companies House – what it is, what it does, director duties and obligations

Companies House is the official UK Registrar of Companies, operating within the remit of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It keeps records of all UK private and public Limited Companies. All new companies must register with Companies House and provide details as required under the Companies Act 2006.

What it does

The key duties of Companies House are:

  • Incorporation and dissolution of UK Limited Companies
  • Maintenance and scrutiny of company information as specified in the Companies Act 2006
  • Keeping up-to-date Limited Company information available for the general public

All Limited Companies must file an annual return to Companies House at least once a year.  If a company fails to file their annual return the Registrar may assume the company is no longer in business and begin the process of striking it from the companies register.

Deadlines and penalties

For a private Limited company’s first set of accounts, if they cover more than 12 months, they must be filed with Companies House within 21 months of the date of incorporation, or 3 months from the accounting reference date, whichever is longer.

From then on a private company must file accounts by 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period. Late accounts incur an automatic penalty with increasing amounts payable the later they become, as follows:

Length of delay    Private company penalty

Not more than 1 month   £150

More than 1 month but   £375 not more than 3 months

More than 3 months but  £750 Not more than 6 months

More than 6 months   £1,500

In addition, if you file your accounts late for two consecutive years, the penalty will double.

Limited Company director duties and obligations

If you are Limited Company contractor as director of your company you have a range of duties and legal obligations which are set out in the Companies Act 2006.

The key director duties centre on operating in the best interests of the company and include elements such as exercising reasonable care, skill and diligence and actively promoting your company.

The principle financial duties focus on ensuring that all accounting and tax matters are in order and are filed in good time to Companies House and HMRC. Many Limited Company contractors have an accountant to do this for them, but as director it is your responsibility to make sure this happens.

The main legal responsibilities focus on the details of the running of the company. These include completing and submitting an Annual Return (Form AR01) to Companies House and informing them of any personnel changes. Also included are areas such as ensuring compliance with all relevant employment, health and safety and company legislation and acting in the best interests of the company’s shareholders.

For most Limited Company contractors the day-to-day impact of these responsibilities is likely to be minimal, none the less an awareness of these roles and responsibilities is important.


This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.