A guide to accounting reference dates and periods

2 min read

Posted: 8th Dec 2020

A question that we’re often asked is, “What date should my accounts be made up to?” It’s a very important question, as a company filing its accounts late will get an automatic fine.

Even dormant companies have to file accounts on time – our annual compliance service can help 

Mme Godin's Kindergarten Blog: Important Dates!


Every company must prepare accounts that report on the performance and activities of the company during the financial year. The financial year starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new company, on the day of incorporation. Financial years are determined by reference to an Accounting Reference Period (ARPs). The financial period ends on the accounting reference date.

For new companies, the first accounting reference date is set as the last day in the month in which its first anniversary falls. The subsequent accounting reference dates will automatically be on the same date each year. A company may make its accounts up to 7 days either side of their accounting reference date.

Here is an example:

Company incorporated First accounting reference date
7 January 201531 January 2016
23 June 201530 June 2016
1 December 201531 December 2016

As part of our incorporation service we can change the accounting reference date of your company when we form it for you. There is no limit to shortening, and you can extend the date by up to 6 months.

Delivery times for filing accounts:

 Deadline for first accounts (if covering a period of 12 months or more)
Private company/Limited Liability Partnership21 months*
Public Limited Company18 months*
 Normal deadline (after your first year)
Private company/Limited Liability Partnership9 months*
Public Limited Company6 months*
*or 3 months from the accounting reference date (ARD), whichever is longer.

Here’s an example of filing dates:

 Filing times
Accounting Reference DateLast date for filing
4  March 20154 December 2015
30  April 201531 January 2016

For a new company:

Private company incorporated7 January 2015
Accounting Reference Date31 January 2016
Accounting Reference Period of first accounts7 January 2015 to 31 January 2016
Last date for filing7 October 2016

Here’s another example for you:

Accounting Reference Date31 January 2015
Last accounts filed31 January 2015
Accounting Reference Period of accounts1 February 2015 to 31 January 2016
Last date for filing31 October 2016


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