How long to keep accounting records

UK companies must keep their accounting records for a number of years. How long to keep accounting records is dependent on whether you are a private company or a public limited company (PLC).

In brief, accounting records include your company accounts, company tax return, VAT returns, Payroll records and other financial records.

Section 388 (a) and (b) of the Companies Act 2006 made this clear. A private limited company must keep their accounting records for 3 years. Whereas, a PLC must keep their accounting records for 6 years. The keeping record date starts from your last company accounting year-end date.

In some cases, your company may require to keep financial records for more than 6 years. For examples,

  • To show a transaction that covers two accounting periods.
  • Your company’s equipment or machinery has an economic useful life span longer than 6 years.
  • You deliver your company tax return to HMRC late.
  • HMRC started a compliance check into your company tax return.

Where to keep your accounting records?

Generally, you must keep your company records at your registered office address in the UK. If for any reasons, you would like to store your records somewhere else, you must notify Companies House. The somewhere else, in the UK company law, it is called the Single Alternative Inspection Location (SAIL).

Usually, you would keep your financial records with your company registers at the same place. Your company registers would include the register of directors, copies of your confirmation statement file with Companies House and so on.

For this purpose, both your registered office address and your SAIL address must not be a P O BOX address. They must be a physical location.

If you have any questions about your company accounts, contact Companies House. For any questions relating to your company tax returns, contact HMRC. You may also speak with our London accountants.

Company accounts for UK public companies after Brexit

There are new accounting rules after Brexit when comes to prepare company accounts for UK public companies both with listing in the UK and in the EU. These rules apply from 01 January 2021 onward.

Generally, your company must adopt the UK adopted IAS for the accounting period beginning on or after 1 January 2021. You would say goodbye to the EU adopted IAS. IAS stands for International Accounting Standards. Both sets of accounting standards are the same at the moment. However, there may be differences later when UK updated the UK adopted IAS.

UK public companies with a UK listing

All UK public companies and groups with shares listed in the London Stock Exchange must prepare accounts using the UK adopted IAS. This rule applies to your company accounts with the accounting period starting on or after 01 January 2021.

However, you have the option to prepare your company accounts using the EU adopted IAS if you wish. This option only available to you for accounts beginning on or before 01 January 2021.

If you are going to use the EU adopted IAS for your accounts then change over to the UK adopted IAS, in this case, you do not have to restate your accounts after 01 January 2021.

UK companies with an EEA listing

If your public limited company has a subsidiary incorporated in the EU with an EEA listing, you must ensure you do both of the following:

First, you must comply with the rules of the country where your subsidiary is located.

Second, you must produce company accounts that comply with the UK Companies Act 2006.

If you have any questions about company accounts for UK public companies after Brexit, contact Companies House. Alternatively, speak with our London accountants.

Another important document, your public limited company must deliver to Companies House is your confirmation statement.