Financial and management accounts: the basics

Filing financial accounts

Limited companies are obliged by law to prepare a set of financial accounts each year and to file a copy with Companies House.

For accounting periods starting on or after 6 April 2008:

  • private companies must file accounts within 21 months of the business' formation, and within nine months of the end of each financial year thereafter
  • public companies must file accounts within 18 months of the business' formation, and within six months of the end of each financial year thereafter

Read guidance on preparing and filing accounts on the Companies House website.

There are statutory penalties for late or incorrect filing, for which the directors are liable. Find information about late filing penalties on the Companies House website.

Small and medium-sized companies are allowed to file accounts with certain information omitted. For more information, see our guide on accounting and auditing exemptions for small companies.

Small companies

A small company is one which meets at least two of the following criteria:

  • annual turnover must be £6.5 million or less
  • the balance sheet total - fixed and current assets - must be £3.26 million or less
  • the average number of employees must not exceed 50

Small companies may deliver a copy of the full accounts to Companies House or choose to deliver abbreviated accounts which include the following:

  • abbreviated balance sheet and notes
  • special auditors' report - unless the company has a small company audit exemption

Medium-sized companies

A medium-sized company must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • annual turnover must not exceed £25.9 million (£22.8 million or less for accounting reference periods before 6 April 2008)
  • the balance sheet total must not exceed £12.9 million (£11.4 million on or before 6 April 2008)
  • the average number of employees must not exceed 250

Medium-sized companies may deliver a copy of the full accounts to Companies House or choose to deliver abbreviated accounts which include the following:

  • full balance sheet
  • abbreviated profit and loss account
  • special auditors' report
  • directors' report
  • notes to the accounts

Subjects covered in this guide


Companies House Contact Centre

0303 1234 500

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