The accounting reference date is an important deadline that all Limited companies must be aware of. Knowing your accounting reference date will prevent your company from incurring financial penalties issued by Companies House.

What is an accounting reference date?

This is the end of the financial year for a Limited company and the dates their accounts must cover. The accounting reference will automatically be set as the last day of the month, one year after the incorporation date. For example, if your company is registered on 11th May 2018 your accounting reference date will be 31st May 2019 and will continue as the 31st May each year after. It is important to remember this is not the deadline for submitting your accounts to Companies House. Your company will have 9 months from the Accounting reference date to prepare and submit the accounts to Companies House.

How do you change the accounting reference date?

It is possible for a limited company to extend or shorten its accounting period by changing the accounting reference date. To change the date you will need to file Companies House AA01 form. The company can shorten its accounting period s many time as you like. If the company intends to Lengthen its accounting period it must meet certain criteria set out by Companies House which are as follows:

  • The company can change the accounting reference date and change the accounting period to a maximum of 18 months, or longer if your company’s in administration.

  • This can only be changed once every 5 years.

If the company wants to change the accounting reference date more than once in 5 years the company must meet the following requirements:

  • The company must be in administration.

  • The purpose of changing the date is to align the dates with a subsidiary or parent company.

  • Companies House have provided special permission to amend the dates.

It is important to remember if the company accounts become overdue you will not able to change the accounting reference date.