What is a company's accounting reference date?

A UK company's accounting reference date is the end of it's financial year. It is often abbreviated to 'ARD' and is the date a company must make its annual financial accounts up to.

As each financial year comes to an end, you will have to:

  • Arrange to complete your company's annual accounts,
  • Send a copy of the accounts to each shareholder in the company,
  • Send a copy to Companies House, and
  • Send a copy to HMRC.

The annual accounts are needed to report your business’s activity during that financial year, up to and including the accounting reference date.

It’s very easy to change the ARD subsequent to company formation if you intend to extend or reduce your 12 month financial year. There is no limit to the amount of times you can shorten a company's financial year but you can only extend it once every five years, except in certain circumstances. You can also only change the ARD before the deadline for providing your company's annual accounts - i.e. nine months after your accounting reference date. You can not change the ARD though if the company's accounts are already overdue.

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