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If you have a September deadline for filing your accounts, leaving it until the last minute risks being hit with a fine.

All limited companies, whether they trade or not, must deliver annual accounts to Companies House each year. Directors are advised to file early, rather than leaving it until the 11th hour, when unforeseen circumstances could prevent you from being on time with the risk of financial penalties.

Directors have lots of responsibilities, including keeping company records up-to-date and making sure they’re filed on time. You need to understand your role as a director, the importance of remaining compliant and how late filing could affect your company.

Missing your filing deadline could affect your credit score or access to finance. It can affect how others view your company and whether they want to do business with you. There are also financial penalties and legal consequences – you could get a criminal record, a fine or disqualification.

Even if an accountant files your company’s accounts on your behalf, it’s still your responsibility, as director, to make sure they’re filed on time.

File online

If you file using online services you will be sent an email to confirm your accounts have been received. A further email will be sent when your accounts have been registered.

To file online, you may need your company authentication code. If you need to request a new code, you should allow up to five days for this to arrive at the company’s registered office.

Software filing

Over 65 per cent of companies use software filing as their preferred method.

There are a variety of software providers that offer a range of accounting packages to prepare and file accounts. Most types of accounts can be filed using software, depending on the functionality of the software package you’re using.

In the future, as part of new legislation brought about by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, you’ll only be able to file your accounts using software. This means you’ll no longer be able to file accounts on paper or using online services.

After the Bill achieves Royal Assent and becomes an Act, you’ll be notified about the timetable for the phased roll-out of the change to software-only filing. If you don’t already file using software, you will have time to make the change before it’s a legal requirement.

Avoid rejections

You should only send paper accounts if your company cannot file online or by software. Accounts filed on paper need to be manually checked. They can be checked only during office opening hours, and they can take over a week to process.

If you need to file your accounts on paper, you should send them well before the deadline. This will give you plenty of time to correct your accounts and resend them if they are rejected.

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