One of the items to be decided when you set up a new company is the accounting reference date, sometimes shortened to the ARD.

The ARD is the date that dictates your financial reporting period (normally 12 months). The financial year starts on the date after the end of the previous financial year ended or for a new company on the day of incorporation.  For new companies, the first ARD is the last day of the month in which the first anniversary of the company falls.  For example

The deadline for accounts filing is 9 months after the ARD for a Private Limited company or Limited Liability Partnership and 6 months for a Public Limited Company.  This date is shown on the Companies House website for all UK Companies.

Click the link for example

Date Company IncorporatedAccounting Reference DateFiling Deadline
15 November 202030 November 202115 August 2022
21 April 202130 April 202221 January 2023
1 December 202131 December 20221 September 2023

You can amend the ARD at any point during the company lifecycle, by filing a request with Companies House.  You can change the current or previous accounting period, up to the date the accounts are due to be filed you cannot change it once the accounts are overdue.  There is no limit as to how many times you can shorten the ARD but you can only lengthen it once every five years (except for certain circumstances).  Sometimes the required ARD is dictated by a parent company or a shareholder’s agreement or a lease if the company owns property.  


The penalty only applies to the late filing of accounts. The level of the penalty depends on how late the accounts are filed with Companies House. 

Length of period (measured from the date the accounts are due)Penalty for a private company or LLPPenalty for a public company
Up to 1 month£150£750
More than 1 month but less than 3 months£375£1,500
More than 3 months but less than 6 months£750£3,000
More than 6 Months£1,500£7,500

The penalty will be doubled if accounts are filed late in 2 successive financial years.


Not filing your confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is a criminal offence – and directors or LLP designated members could be personally fined in the criminal courts.

Failing to pay your late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings. Any criminal proceedings for not filing confirmation statements or accounts is separate from and in addition to any late filing penalties issued by Companies House against the company.

For further information, please contact us here.

The information above does not in any way constitute advice. Seeking specialist expertise and support is highly recommended for all Company Directors.