Reconsider the practicalities for accounts filing in the light of the COVID-19 restrictions
Apply for more time to file your accounts
Companies House recognises the disruption caused by the current restrictions and has announced that, as of 25 March 2020, businesses may apply for a three-month extension period to file their accounts. This extension will not be granted automatically and companies seeking more time are expected to complete an online application before the filing deadline. Those stating “issues around COVID-19” or “health matters” as the reason for their application will be automatically and immediately granted three months’ extension. No further evidence is required. However, companies that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period, may be ineligible for an extension.
If there is a risk that your company may miss the filing deadline, it would be prudent to apply for an extension as late filing penalties will be imposed automatically. This is particularly important for companies whose accounts are filed late two years in a row, as penalties are doubled in the second year.
Late filing penalties
If a late filing penalty is issued to your company, you may appeal against it. The Registrar of Companies already has policies in place to deal with appeals based upon unforeseen poor health. Appeals based upon COVID-19 will be considered under these policies. Each appeal is treated on a case by case basis.
Submitting accounts to Companies House
Standard practices for the signing and filing of accounts should be reconsidered and adjusted to take into account the changed circumstances and extra time that may be required given that Companies House has closed some of its offices and suspended all same-day services for the time being. Companies House London office is closed until further notice and there is no functioning post box for the delivery of documents. Companies registered in England and Wales should send filings directly to the Cardiff office address at: Companies House, Crown Way, Cardiff, CF14 3UZ.
Companies House confirmed that the following signature formats are acceptable on the accounts and on audit reports:
- Digital signatures provided by DocuSign or similar providers
- Fonts: This means a font type keyed in word processing packages such as Microsoft Word and similar
- Images of signatures pasted into a document
- Rubber stamp
- Company seal
- A thumb/finger print
The Registrar will also accept good photocopies of the signed accounts, but if paper filing proves difficult to arrange, smaller and audit-exempt companies should consider whether WebFiling may be an alternative— please note that this requires manual entry of the figures to an online template and the designated person submitting the figures must be registered for WebFiling. Full details can be found here. WebFiling is not available for LLPs. If accounts are compiled through compatible software then direct electronic filing to Companies House through the software package is the quickest option.