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Online filing of documents at Companies House, 16th November 2011

What you need to know?

In a bid to keep up with moving times, Companies House has allowed companies and their advisers to file an increasing number of documents online in recent years via their website (www.companieshouse.gov.uk/index.shtml).

In order to access the "Webfiling" system, you must first register for two codes as follows:

1. "Security Code" - which is linked to the user's e-mail address and e-mailed to that address by Companies House. This e-mail address and Security Code combination allows users to file documents for any number of limited companies or limited liability partnerships; and

2. "Authentication Code" - which is linked to a specific company (or LLP as the case may be) and is issued by post to the company's registered office.

Once you are in possession of the necessary codes, you can use them to log onto the Web-filing system and to file the following documents (amongst others):

• Appointment and termination forms for directors and secretaries;

• Director and secretary change of particulars forms;

• Change of registered office forms; and

• Annual return.

However, there is now also an enhanced security online filing system available via Companies House known as "PROOF - PROtected Online Filing". This enhanced system was introduced by Companies House to enable companies to protect themselves from any unauthorised changes to their filing history. Once in place, PROOF prevents the paper filing of certain documents by a company (including all of those listed above), thereby ensuring that only those with access to the security information outlined above can file said documents on the company's behalf and only online. A company can register for this enhanced security filing method via the standard Webfiling site and once it is activated, certain paper forms will no longer be accepted if submitted to Companies House.

It is advisable that companies do what they can to remain secure but before registering for the enhanced PROOF filing system, you should consider and bear in mind the following:

• It is vital that anyone who is authorised to file documents with Companies House on behalf of the company be notified that the company is PROOF registered, otherwise their attempts to file certain paper documents will be rejected which could result in delays. Company accountants and solicitors are routinely instructed to make recurring filings (e.g. annual returns) and to make one-off filings (e.g. appointment / termination of company officers in a sale or investment transaction) on a company's behalf and if PROOF is in place, they would require to be notified accordingly;

• Only in exceptional circumstances and with their express authorisation will Companies House accept a paper form from the list above when a company is PROOF registered. There is therefore no quick solution where an urgent paper form has been rejected by Companies House and no-one has the relevant company security codes to allow online filing instead; and

• If a company's online "Authentication Code" is misplaced it cannot be obtained quickly as Companies House will only ever issue a reminder notice to the company's registered office address by post.

If you would like any further information or have any queries in relation to the online filing of documents at Companies House, please just contact us.

Last updated: 5.15pm, Tuesday 1st May 2012

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