The wording used by Companies House can be confusing. The Annual Return they are referring to is form AR01 (previously known as the Form 363a), which is used to notify them of general information about the company, such as details of the shareholders and the rights of those shareholders. The form must be filed annually and it is a criminal offence to fail to do so. The form can either be returned online, for which there is a filing fee of £15, or on paper, for which the filing charge is £30.
The form can be quite complicated to complete, depending on your circumstances, so it may be advisable for you to seek professional assistance if this is the first time you have had to complete such a form. Your local TaxAssist Accountant will be happy to assist you with this.
Generally your first accounts have to be filed within twenty one months of the day the company was formed. Failure to do so will lead to a sliding scale of penalties starting with a £150 fine if the accounts are up to a month late and going up to £1,500 if the accounts are more than six months late. The accounts that are submitted to Companies House are called abbreviated accounts, as they only contain a balance sheet and directors' report.
There are strict requirements for the format of abbreviated accounts that are submitted to Companies House and it is therefore advisable to appoint an accountant to help you with this, as the accounts will be rejected if they are not presented in the correct format.