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Legal & Financial


Last updated: 31 March 2022


Identity fraud costs Britain around £2 billion a year. One of the biggest problems for companies is that fraudsters can submit forms to Companies House which enable them to change the names of company directors and the registered address of the company, effectively stealing the company’s identity. Once this has been done, the ‘new’ directors can open new bank accounts, have goods delivered to ‘new’ addresses which they then sell on but never pay for. In the meantime the original genuine business can be ruined.

WebFiling is the safe and reliable way to file your company information online. As well as saving you money on your Annual Return (£15), WebFiling allows you to file most of your company information free of charge. An email is sent to the company’s registered email address when any of its details are changed as added security. Companies House then rejects any paper versions of the above forms and sends them back to the company unless specifically authorised to accept them by the company. In this way businesses can be sure that only they can file the forms to register such changes.

WebFiling can be used to submit all the forms below:

  • Annual Return (363)
  • Change of Accounting Reference Date (AA01)
  • Appointment of director or secretary (288a)
  • Terminating Appointment as Director or Secretary (288b)
  • Change of Particulars for Director or Secretary (288c)
  • Change in Situation or Address of Registered Office (287)
  • Location of register of members (353)
  • Location of register of members in a non-legible form (353a)
  • Location of debenture holders (190)
  • Location of register of debenture holders in a non-legible form (190a)
  • Return of allotments of shares (excluding non-cash) (88(2))
  • Increase in nominal capital (with resolution) (123)
  • Audit Exempt Abbreviated Accounts
  • Dormant Company Accounts (DCA)

To use WebFiling you must first register online. Then a security code will be sent to your email address, and a further authentication code will be posted to your company’s registered office. The authentication code is unique to a particular company and is used in place of a signature. The WebFiling service is available Monday to Saturday, 7am to 12 midnight.

Annual Return forms are unavailable online for the following companies:

  • company numbers that begin with a prefix (e.g. FC, AC etc.) except for SC
  • companies with more than 40 individual and joint shareholders
  • companies where the total current and resigned officers is greater than 120
  • companies with a share value of more than 3 decimal places
  • companies with an individual share value of more than £9,999
  • limited liability partnerships
  • companies with more than 10 joint shareholders per shareholding
  • companies with more than 6 values (currencies) of nominal capital
  • dissolved companies
  • companies in voluntary liquidation
  • companies in compulsory liquidation
  • companies in receivership
  • companies who have held a return of final meeting
  • companies that are converted or closed
  • companies that have a first Gazette notice of dissolution
  • companies submitting lists of subsidiary and associated undertakings
  • companies where more than 255 changes need to be input within a single session
  • companies where there are more than 1,000 tags per document
  • companies with more than 6 classes of share
  • companies with a Corporate Voluntary Arrangement in place

Apart from WebFiling there is also electronic filing, which requires the use of specialised software to file data to Companies House. This service is more appropriate for bulk use – for example those filing documents on a daily or weekly basis. Documents are automatically validated for compliance with the Companies Act before notice of acceptance or rejection is issued.

The new Company Law Reform Bill makes it a criminal offence to deliver misleading information to the Registrar and aims to ensure that if your identity is stolen there is more you can do to recover the situation.

Other security measures to help protect your business include making regular checks to ensure that details registered at Companies House are correct. Also, always shred all corporate waste and ensure that those employed to do so are vetted, do not have a criminal background and can be trusted with this crucial security job. If you move address, remember to inform all of the companies and customers that you deal with. Consider re-directing your post through Royal Mail. Make sure you keep all correspondence safe and secure – in particular bank and credit card statements and utility bills.

The system is subject to terms and conditions, which you must read. If your company is subject to an ongoing internal dispute you cannot join the PROOF scheme and should seek independent professional legal advice, but for most other companies it makes life simpler.

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