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).

An account reference date may be changed by shortening an accounting reference period as often as a company likes and by as many months as it wants. However there are restrictions on extending accounting reference periods. Most notably it may not be extended so that a period lasts more than 18 months from the start date of the accounting period, unless the company is in administration and it may not be extended more than once in 5 years .

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

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