All organisations are given a 3 month filing extension

March 28, 2020

Firms struggling to file their accounts due the coronavirus pandemic are to be granted a ‘fast-tracked’ three-month extension with Companies House.

A joint statement from Companies House and Alok Sharma confirmed that businesses must ask to be given the extension to file, but those that are affected by COVID-19 will be ‘automatically and immediately granted’ the extra 3 months.

The ‘fast-track’ online extension application takes 15 minutes.

It was only last week that a 2 month extension was being offered by Companies House with a third if required.

Applying is simple, have to hand:

  • company number;
  • information on why more time is needed (cite COVID-19 or health reasons); and
  • documents to support the application (optional).

Companies House Chief Executive, Louise Smyth said: “We recognise that these are uncertain times for businesses and that’s why we’re doing all we can to help. “I would encourage companies who believe they would benefit from this new flexibility to make an application in good time.”

For Third Sector Organisations reeling from the effects of COVID-19 on their funding streams, staff, volunteers and users, this will be very welcome news. Kevin Lucas, our Third Sector specialist encouraged all third sector organisations to take advantage of this offer as appropriate.

"Giving an organisation more time to concentrate on its survival as opposed to filing accounts is very welcomed. I would encourage all Third Sector Organisations to not only defer filing accounts, but to also defer any audit or annual accounts preparation for the foreseeable future. If nothing else, the funds can be better used elsewhere in the short term.

As an alternative - lengthening accounting periods?

An alternative approach to delay when accounts must be filed by would be to lengthen the company’s accounting period. Subsequent accounting period(s) could then be shortened to return the company’s year-end to its original date. However, there are certain restrictions and implications that should be considered carefully before selecting this option.

  • Companies may only change their year-end (their accounting reference date), be it to shorten or lengthen the accounting period, for their current financial year or the one immediately before. Year-ends cannot be changed when accounts are overdue.
  • Generally, companies can lengthen their accounting period to a maximum of 18 months and, unless certain criteria apply, the financial year can only be lengthened once every 5 years.
  • Companies may change their year-end by shortening their financial year (by a minimum of 1 day) as many times as they like.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, Companies House are encouraging to file their accounts or submit applications to extend filing deadlines or change year-ends online.

Charities and Annual Returns to the Charities Commission

Charities needing an extension to their annual return filing deadline can apply for one to the Charity Commission. The commission assures charities that they will be as flexible and supportive as possible with regard to regulation during this period.

Kevin Lucas
Charity Recovery Specialist and Licensed Insolvency Practitioner
Kevin has worked in the Business Insolvency and Recovery field since 2002 and now specialises in helping charities with financial difficulties. Contact him directly on