Home News Business News Companies House updates penalty guidance due to covid delays


Companies House updates penalty guidance due to covid delays

Companies House has advised businesses that there is a delay to penalty reviews at the moment due to workload

Due to longer response times to appeals, Companies House has updated the penalty guidance to add reassurance that they will suspend all recovery action until an appeal has been considered. Those appealing will receive a full reply in due course and do not need to contact Companies House.

Covid-19 restrictions means that Companies House staff are primarily working remotely. The guidance states: ‘We have reduced numbers in our offices to maintain social distancing – so we’re not able to take credit card payments over the telephone.’

It is possible to make some penalty payments online. If you have difficulty paying the penalty, Companies House normally accepts payment over a short period by monthly instalments. Anyone who wants to pay over time needs to contact Companies House to request payment by instalments, explaining why they cannot pay the penalty immediately.

All directors of companies or designated members of limited liability partnerships (LLP) are personally responsible for delivering accounts before the time allowed runs out. Delivery means actual receipt at Companies House in the correct format. A penalty is automatically imposed if the accounts are late.

The penalty only applies to accounts. The level of the penalty depends on how late the accounts reach Companies House.


Length of period (from date accounts are due)Penalty for a private company or LLP Penalty for a public company
 Not more than 1 month  £150£750
More than 1 month but not more than 3 months£375£1,500
More than 3 months but not more 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 two successive financial years.

Not filing 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 a late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings. Any criminal proceedings for not filing confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is separate from (and in addition to) any late filing penalties issued by Companies House against the company.

There is no penalty for filing confirmation statements or annual returns late – but the registrar could take steps to strike off your company.

If there is a special reason why the accounts might be filed late (such as an unforeseen event), it is possible to apply for more time to file accounts if the filing deadline has not passed. An extension will only be granted if the reasons are exceptional.

If accounts are delivered late, Companies House will automatically issue a penalty notice to the registered office address. The penalty notice gives details of the penalty (or penalties) imposed against the company. It shows the last date for filing, the date the accounts were filed and the level of the penalty imposed.

Christmas hours of opening

Companies House has also confirmed that the phone lines and contact centre will close at 2pm on Friday 24 December 2021. Online services will be available. The contact centre services will be available from 29 to 31 December from 8.30am to 6pm.

If you’re using a same day service to electronically file a change of company name, or incorporate a company (software filing only), you must apply before 12pm on 24 December 2021 (Christmas Eve). If you apply after 12pm, the application will not be processed until 29 December 2021.

How can we help you?

Brearley & Co Accountants are pleased to offer a free, no obligation, initial consultation with one of our experts who will be happy to discuss your business needs and how we can help you.