Company accounting periods, and how to change them

These are the rules that explain how a UK company’s accounting periods are set, and how the annual accounting date can be changed.

Pen on diary in JanuaryA company’s first accounting date is by default set to the last day of the month one year after incorporation. So a company incorporated on 15 June 2007 would have its first accounting date set at 30 June 2008, unless it is changed by the company notifying the Registrar.

The first accounting period may be changed so that it is any length between 6 and 18 months. This allows any annual accounting date to be adopted regardless of the date of incorporation.

For all accounting periods, the company may choose to file accounts made up to a date within 7 days (before or after) of its registered accounting date. For companies that organise their accounting records weekly, such as bars and restaurants, this allows them to prepare accounts to the same day of the week each year.

At any time before the filing deadline for an accounting period, the company may extend or shorten that accounting period so that it ends on a different date.

In order that a company continues to file accounts regularly, an accounting period cannot be extended to longer than 18 months, and in most cases, the accounting period cannot be extended more than once every 5 years. To be more precise, notice cannot be given to extend an accounting period if it is within 5 years of the end of an accounting period that had also been extended.

There are no restrictions on how often an accounting period can be shortened, nor are there any limits on how short a period can be.

All changes to the length of a company’s accounting period need to be registered by a director or the company secretary filing form 225 at Companies House, or by using their WebFiling online facility. Preparing accounts to a date within 7 days of the current registered date does not require a change in the accounting date to be filed.


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