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What is the Annual Return (AR01 Form)?


Filing the annual return is a legal requirement in the UK.

If you are running a company in the UK, you must operate in accordance with the applicable legislation (e.g. Companies Act 2006).

There are certain statutory annual requirements that you should comply with including:

  • Filing Annual Returns
  • Self-Assessment Tax Returns
  • Annual Accounts
  • Pay as you Earn (PAYE)
  • Corporation Tax
  • Quarterly VAT Returns

This article is about the annual return (AR01 Form, part 24 of the Companies Act 2006).

NB: From 30th June 2016, the name had changed from an annual return to a confirmation statement.

Nevertheless, there is no much change in substance. The phrase “annual return” is still widely used (so we will use both terms in this article).


Annual Return Definition


An annual return (confirmation statement) is a statement that you file at the Companies House to confirm that the information they hold about your company is correct.

AR01 Form (now CS01 Form) is the Companies House annual return form.



Annual Return Filing – AR01 Form (from 30th June 2016 CS01 Form – Confirmation Statement)


Annual return (confirmation statement) should be filed online through the Companies House web filing service or on the paper form which can be sent by post.

In either case, you will need to fill in the form called CS01 (previously form AR01), pay the fees and submit it to Companies House before the deadline.

Yes, as simple as that. Generally the whole process looks exactly like this. However, below you will find additional information on annual returns you might need.



Companies House Annual Return Fee


The amount of fee is different for online filing and confirmation statement on paper:


Online form£13
Paper form£40


Most people prefer filing the confirmation statements through the online portal.

You cannot use the paper form to file confirmation statement for your company if:

  • The company is in the protected online filing scheme (PROOF);
  • You need to file form 363 (old form).



Details That Must Be Provided in a Confirmation Statement (Annual Return)


Below are the details that your annual return must reflect:

  • Company name and number
  • Registered office address
  • Made-up date of the return – a date at which all information must be correct
  • Alternative inspection location (SAIL address), if you use one
  • Officers (directors and company secretary)
  • Persons with significant control (PSCs)



Confirmation Statement Overdue: Companies House Annual Return Deadline


There is no specific annual return due date. You must ensure that you file at least one confirmation statement every 12 months.

However, you may file as many confirmation statements as you wish within the 12 months so long as you give an interval of 24 hours between any two consecutive confirmation statements.

If you have just registered your company, you will have to wait for at least 48 hours before filing its first confirmation statement.

Although you are not required to pay more than once in a year even if you opt to file several confirmation statements, companies in the interest of time rarely file more than one confirmation statement in a single year.

The most important thing to note is that: you must file annual returns at least once every 12 months.

Failing to submit the annual return (confirmation statement) while your company is in operation is a criminal offense and entails serious consequences.


AR01 Form (CS01) filing timelines

Annual Return must be submitted by UK companies at least once in every 12 months period.


If you fail to file the confirmation statement within the stipulated time, you may face one of the following actions depending on the case circumstances:

  • Fine £5,000;
  • Removal from the position of director of the company;
  • Prosecution (if you fail to file a confirmation statement at all);
  • Companies House may strike the company off the register of companies assuming that your company isn’t carrying on business or in operation. If this happens then your company will cease to exist and all its assets will become Crown property.



Responsibility for Filing Annual Return/Confirmation Statements


The legal responsibility for filing the confirmation statement (annual return) of a company lies with the directors.

If you have a company secretary, you may delegate the responsibility to him or her but always have in mind that it is you who is ultimately liable.

It is important to control and make sure that your company files annual returns before the deadline to avoid the consequences provided above in this article.



How Does a Confirmation Statement (CS01 Form) Differ from an Annual Return (AR01 Form)


As noted above, confirmation statements replaced annual returns. This change took effect on 30th June 2016.


Starting from 30 June 2016 Confirmation Statements (CS01) replaced Annual Returns (AR01)


While there is no much difference, the following are worth noting:

  • Previously, the requirement was to include a full list of shareholders every three years. This is no longer a requirement with the confirmation statement. As a result, you avail the information to the Companies House whenever you want to ensure that your information is up to date and correct.
  • Moreover, now instead of having to provide a snapshot of your company data annually, you are only required to check and confirm that the information held by the Companies House is accurate and up to date. With the annual return (AR01 Form), you were required to file within 28 days from the anniversary of the incorporation of your company. This period is now 14 days.
  • Finally, there is the introduction of the requirement to provide a list of people with significant control (PSC) at the time of filing your first confirmation statement.



Is Companies House Annual Return the same as HMRC Annual Return?


The quick answer is no. 

HMRC returns are called Company Tax Returns and are different from Company House annual returns. UK companies submit HMRC tax returns to HMRC and Company House annual returns are respectively submitted to Companies House.


Below is the brief comparison table between UK company annual returns and tax returns:

 Companies House Annual ReturnHMRC Annual Return (Tax Return)
Is a tax declaration?NoYes
Is about finances?NoYes
Filed on an annual basis?YesYes
Penalties for not filing?YesYes



What is the difference between company Annual Return and Annual Accounts?


UK private limited companies are required to file both annual returns and annual accounts. Although both of these documents are filed to Companies House they are totally different and should not be confused.

The key difference between annual returns and annual accounts is that the former is all about the company information from a non-financial perspective, while the latter is about the finances.

Being a Companies House annual report, accounts are part of tax return filing process and can be filed separately or together with the tax return if you have a private limited company that doesn’t need an auditor.



The Importance of the Annual Return/Confirmation Statement


While filing a confirmation statement is a statutory requirement, it is not meant to merely increase your responsibilities as a director. It serves several important functions including:

  • Keeping your company’s information on the official register up to date;
  • Improving the quality of information on the official register;
  • The fees paid when filing confirmation statements is an important source of revenue for the Companies House which needs money to maintain the register and to offer other services.

For the official information on confirmation statements, click here.



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