The current Software Filing service allows external companies to develop software packages, enabling either their own employees or customers of their company to manage the submission of a range of forms required by Companies House.
How does Software Filing operate?
The Software Filing service operates by the electronic transmission of documents to Companies House via a HTTPS link using Extensible Markup Language (XML).These documents must comply with the structure approved by the Registrar for electronic submission, as documented in the Software Filing Technical Interface Specification, which is available for software developers by contacting Customer Care on 02920 380336 or via email email@example.com.
What is XML?
eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is controlled and monitored by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is now the generally accepted mechanism for data exchange over the internet. It is also the recommended e-GIF (e-Government Interoperability Framework) standard for use by Government agencies in web applications.
What is the XML Gateway?
The XML Gateway provides online access over the internet into Companies House databases for customers to submit as well as retrieve company information via their own applications or web pages.
Can I use my XML Gateway output account to software file?
Separate XML Gateway logins (and credit accounts) are required for input and output products, even though they use the same portal.
What documents can I file electronically?
For companies registered in England, Wales Northern Ireland and Scotland, the Software Filing service supports the electronic submission of:
- AR01 – Annual Return
- AD01 – Change of Registered Office
- AD02 – Notification of Single Alternative Inspection Location
- AD03 – Change of location of company records to SAIL
- AD04 – Change of location of company records to RO
- AP01 – Appointment of Natural Director
- AP02 – Appointment of Corporate Director
- AP03 – Appointment of Natural Secretary
- AP04 – Appointment of Corporate Secretary
- TM01 – Termination of Director
- TM02 – Termination of Secretary
- CH01 – Change of Natural Director
- CH02 – Change of Corporate Director
- CH03 – Change of Natural Secretary
- CH04 – Change of Corporate Secretary
- SH01 – Allotment of Shares
- AA01 – Change of Accounting Reference Date
- EINC – Incorporation
- AA – Annual Account
- NM01 – Change of name with resolution
- NM04 – Change of name by means provided for in the articles
- LLAR01 – Annual Return
- LLAD01 – Change of Registered Office
- LLAD02 – Notification of Single Alternative Inspection Location
- LLAD03 – Change of location of company records to SAIL
- LLAD04 – Change of location of company records to RO
- LLAP01 – Appointment of Natural Member
- LLAP02 – Appointment of Corporate Member
- LLTM01 – Termination of Member
- LLCH01 – Change of Natural Member
- LLCH02 – Change of Corporate Member
- LLAA01 – Change of Accounting Reference Date
- LLIN01 – Incorporation
- LLNM01 – Change of name
View full details of the transitional arrangements for the most commonly filed forms.
What does the Software Filing Service consist of?
The following functions can be undertaken within the service.
- Company Information Service - Before submitting data to Companies House, presenters can obtain a copy of the data currently held by Companies House for that Company.
- Form Submission – Submit a document. The date and time of receipt is acknowledged by Companies House.
- Polling Service – Obtain the current status of an electronically filed document, accepted, rejected (with error reasons) or pending (still being processed by CH)
- Obtain Certificate – download of incorporation Certificate
Full details are contained within the Technical Interface Specification.
How do I register as an Electronic Filer?
If you wish to register, please complete the Online Filing Services Credit Account Application and post to the address shown on the form. On receipt, Companies House will create an account, allocate a credit limit and dispatch a start up pack with all the information you need to get started, including a Presenter ID and Authentication Code.
What do I need to start Software Filing?
To file electronically you will need:
- Suitable computer equipment as specified by your software supplier
- Connection to an Internet email facility.
- Computer software to format and submit the electronic documents correctly
- Software Filing Credit account.
Many Company Secretary Software Package suppliers and Electronic Forms suppliers have modified, or are in the process of modifying, their software to generate the electronic formats required. You should contact your own software provider to enquire whether the software is approved for use with the Software Filing service.
List of compatible software suppliers and formation agents.
How are fees collected?
The service is free to use (though you will need an Internet connect for which your Internet Service Provider will change). Certain documents attract a fee when submitted and this is collected via a credit account, which must be set up prior to filing electronically. Monthly invoices will itemise any fee-bearing documents transmitted, requesting payment within a stated period.
How are documents 'Signed'?
a) The reason for Company authentication codes
To replace the signature on paper forms and to comply with the Companies Act, all documents received via the Software Filing service must be authenticated by (or on behalf of) the company concerned. Before documents can be filed electronically for a company, that company must notify Companies House in writing of the code that it will use to authenticate documents, and details of who will be responsible for presenting them. Every document filed electronically MUST bear the relevant company authentication code or it will be rejected.
b) Can more than one company have the same code?
Yes. Groups of companies can choose to have the same authentication code. However, in order to comply with the Companies Act the code must initially be delivered to Companies House in writing by the company concerned signed by a serving officer of the company. This may be done by presenters collating the information from the companies concerned and forwarding to Companies House with the initial application form. In this case, companies must confirm that they have authorised the particular presenter to deliver information on their behalf.
c) Can codes be changed?
Yes. Companies can inform Companies House of a new code to be used from a specified date either in writing or via the WebFiling service. Following this date, documents must use the new code. Companies House also reserves the right to require a company to change its code.
d) How are new companies allocated codes?
If the incorporation is in paper format, the newly incorporated companies can be allocated codes as already described. Alternatively, you may request that a given code is allocated against all companies incorporated by yourselves. You should inform Companies House in writing if you wish to invoke this option.
If the incorporation is in an electronic format then a facility exists to specify a company authentication code with incorporation details.
How do new directors 'Consent to Act'?
On appointment, under the Companies Act, directors must sign to confirm their 'consent to act'. To provide an electronic equivalent of this signature, electronic appointment documents must contain three items of personal information provided by the appointee, which may include:
- Place of birth
- Telephone number
- National Insurance number
- Passport number
- Mother maiden name
- Eye colour
- Fathers first forename.
How long does it take to register documents?
We aim to process 99% of electronically filed Documents within 24 hours of receipt (to the point of acceptance or rejection). In addition, we aim to process all Same Day incorporations on the day of receipt provided applications are received by 3pm.
What if my documents are rejected?
For rejected documents, the acknowledgement will contain an indication of the reason(s) for the rejection plus a Companies House Document Examination contact telephone number to call if you have questions on the rejection reason.
Rejected documents should be corrected and re-submitted within the prescribed statutory period. They may be resubmitted electronically or in paper form.
What if I have problems?
Problems with accessing the Companies House Software Filing service should be reported to the Companies House Contact Centre by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on +44 (0)303 1234 500 clearly stating that you are a registered user of the Software Filing service. Problems with the use of software used to format and dispatch the electronic documents should be reported to the supplier of the software. However, if there are problems with the data supplied, an appropriate Companies House contact number will be given.
How do I file Accounts Electronically?
Certain account types can be filed electronically using this service. Whereas the data is submitted using XML the actual accounts data is in Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), a form of XML. More Information on submitting Accounts via Software Filing.
When can I file electronically?
The Software Filing service will normally be available 24 hours a day although there may be occasions where the service will be withdrawn temporarily to allow for housekeeping and maintenance activities.
Documents received electronically outside the hours of 0730 to 1830 Monday to Friday will not be processed by Companies House until the next working day.
Can I file on paper and electronically?
If you wish, you can choose to file documents by both electronic and traditional methods. The only limitation is that you do not file the same document both electronically and in paper form.
I can't understand how I can get these files to you to be tested. I have the URL but that doesn't seem to do anything, I just get errors when I click on it.
Companies House cannot provide any advice and support on developing your software. However, we hope the information and examples on the schema web page and the information contained in the Technical Interface specification will give you the help you need. The guidance on using XML may also be of some use.