COVID-19 – Companies House to allow extension for filing accounts

2nd April 2020

The coronavirus crisis is impacting more than just the health of the nation, with the structures that underpin our economy now having to reflect the consequences of the lockdown, loss of trade, furloughing of employees and future uncertainty.

Recognising the difficulties faced by businesses of all sizes, Companies House has announced that from Wednesday 25 March 2020, businesses can apply for an automatic and immediate three-month extension to file their accounts.

However, to be eligible for the extension, the filing deadline must not have yet passed and the business in question must not have already extended its filing deadline, or shortened its accounting reference period.

The service has also warned companies to act before their filing deadline. If an extension has not been applied for before the filing date, an automatic penalty will be imposed and it is only in extreme circumstances that this penalty will not be collected.

Applications for the extension can be made through an online process which is expected to take 15 minutes to complete, with more information and guidance on how to make the application available on the Companies House website.

Currently some confusion exists, with some advisers believing the extension is automatic, whilst the Companies House website insists that businesses will have to apply for the extension, rather than it being applied automatically for all businesses.

Companies House has announced additional changes to services during the Coronavirus outbreak, itself not immune to the impact of remote working and social distancing:

  • The contact centre has closed and enquiries should be emailed to
  • Same day services have been suspended until further notice, including incorporations and changes of name
  • Most offices are closed to the public and mail usually sent to the London office should be directed to the Cardiff office
  • All paper applications to restrict access to information on the public register have been suspended and they should now be made online

Companies House is also considering solutions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of companies to hold their required Annual General Meetings. Whilst many UK-incorporated listed companies are permitted to hold ‘hybrid’ or ‘virtual’ meetings, updated guidance is expected.

Companies will typically be advised by their accountant whether they might need the extension due to the impact of the current crisis and should discuss the situation with them and submit their application as soon as possible to avoid any penalty.

This new policy from Companies House will be kept under review and amended as necessary, but if you have any worries about matters concerning your business, please get in touch with us here at Ansons. Emma Benniston, an experienced solicitor part of our Corporate team can be reached at or on 0121 716 3701.