Account reference date – what is it and how can it be changed?

What is the account reference date and how can it be changed?

The account reference date (ARD) is the date on which a company’s financial year ends. This is the period for which the company must prepare its statutory accounts in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. 

Within nine months of the incorporation of your company you must advise Companies House (using Form AA01) as to your 'preferred accounting reference date'. If you do not do this Companies House will assume that the first accounting reference date (and thereafter) for the company will be 12 months from the end of the month of incorporation: e.g. if the company was incorporated on 2nd October the first accounting reference date would be 31st October the following year.

The directors can change the ARD for the financial period in which the change was notified and subsequently by giving notice to the Companies Registry (using Form AA01).

The accounting reference period cannot be reduced to less than six months or increased to more than eighteen months. You cannot extend your financial period more than twice in any period of five years.

A group company can request a change of the ARD of the previous year to coincide with that of another company within the group of companies.