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A Step-by-Step Guide To Filing Your Annual Returns in Nigeria

Filing annual returns

Filing annual returns is a critical legal requirement for every registered business in Nigeria. It’s not just about keeping your business in good standing; it’s about transparency and accountability to regulatory bodies like the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The process can seem daunting, but it’s essential for maintaining your business’s integrity and avoiding any legal issues. In this article, we will share the steps to file your annual returns.

See Also: How to transition from not having a business idea to having a functional registered business.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

Neglecting this duty can result in penalties that no business leader wants to deal with. From fines to more severe legal actions, the implications of non-compliance can be damaging to your business’s financial health and reputation. That’s why we exist to help you stay compliant. Call us on 08038874148 or 08188122223.

This guide is straightforward – we will talk about the “steps to file annual returns in Nigeria.” You’ll get a clear breakdown of the process and steps to efficiently file your annual returns.

See Also: Comprehensive guide on how to register your business with CAC

What Are Annual Returns?

In Nigeria, an annual return is a mandatory report that legally registered businesses must submit to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) yearly. This report provides updated information on the company’s structure, operations, and financial health.

Annual returns is a statutory requirement under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and serves as a corporate transparency tool that ensures that the details of a company on the public register are accurate and current.

See Also: Benefits of registering a business in Nigeria.

Why Are Annual Returns Important?

The filing of annual returns is not just a legal formality; it’s a fundamental aspect of your business’s credibility. It reassures stakeholders that your company operates with due diligence regarding regulatory obligations.

It’s also a factor in building trust with potential investors, partners, and clients who may request proof of compliance as part of their due diligence processes.

See Also: How to choose the right business structure in Nigeria.

Who Needs to File Annual Returns?

All registered business entities in Nigeria, including Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Limited Liability Companies, and Partnerships, are required to file annual returns. It doesn’t matter if your business made a profit or loss; the filing must be completed. Even companies that have not commenced business must file to affirm their status.

By staying on top of your filing obligations, you ensure your business is in good standing—a foundational step for growth, investment, and partnership opportunities in Nigeria’s constantly shifting business terrain.

See Also: Detailed explanation of the different business structures in Nigeria

How to Prepare to File Your Annual Returns

Before we go through the steps of filing your annual returns, you need to prepare your documents. Here are the things you need to put in place before you start the process of filing your annual returns

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

See Also: Factors to consider before choosing a legal structure in Nigeria.

Gather the Necessary Documentation

Before you start the step to file your annual returns, it’s essential to have all your documents in order.

You’ll need your company’s financial statements, which include the balance sheet, profit and loss account, and notes on the accounts. Also, prepare a detailed report highlighting your company’s operations over the past year. This preparation is key to a smooth filing process.

Records and Bookkeeping

Accurate records are the bedrock of a hassle-free filing experience. Maintain timely and precise bookkeeping practices throughout the year to avoid the end-of-year rush.

Implement a system that tracks financial transactions daily, and regularly reviews your records to ensure they’re up-to-date.

See Also: Advantages of registering a business in Nigeria

Mark Your Calendar

Annual returns are due every year. Missing the deadline isn’t an option unless you’re prepared to face penalties. Late submissions attract fines that increase over time and can lead to additional legal complications.

Being proactive with your filing can save you time, money, and legal headaches. Remember, staying compliant isn’t just about avoiding penalties; it’s about positioning your business for success in Nigeria’s competitive market.

See Also: How to register a company in Nigeria

Step-by-Step Guide to Filing Annual Returns with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

Step 1: Update Company Information

Before you file, check that all company details are up to date. Review your company’s registered office address, the list of current directors, secretaries, and particulars of shareholders. Ensure that changes, if any, since the last annual return are accurately reflected.

Step 2: Prepare Financial Statements and Directors’ Reports

Compile your annual financial statements, which include the balance sheet, profit and loss account, and notes on accounts. If applicable, get these statements audited by a certified accountant.

Also, draft the directors’ report, a narrative explaining the financial performance and compliance status of the company. Make sure these are comprehensive, and reflect the company’s financial health and adherence to the Nigerian Companies and Allied Matters Act.

Step 3: Online Filing Process Through the CAC Portal

Log on to the CAC’s Company Registration Portal and navigate to the annual returns section. Fill in the electronic form and upload your financial statements and directors’ reports. It’s essential to cross-verify all uploaded documents for consistency with the filled form.

Step 4: Payment of Filing Fees

Upon submitting the form and attachments, calculate the correct fee according to your company’s share capital. Use the secure payment gateway provided on the CAC portal to make your payment. Keep an eye out for a payment confirmation, as this is proof of your compliance with the financial aspect of the filing.

Step 5: Documentation to Retain for Records

After payment, the system will generate an acknowledgement receipt. Print and preserve this along with the evidence of payment and a copy of the filed documents. These should be kept as part of your company’s permanent records for at least seven years as they might be required for future verification by the CAC or other legal inquiries.

See Also: How to get TIN in Nigeria.

Online Filing of Annual Returns vs. Offline Filing of Annual Returns

Nigerian entrepreneurs have the flexibility to file their annual returns through online or offline channels.

Each method comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Understanding these can help you choose the right fit for your business.

See Also: Procedure for registering a company in Nigeria

Advantages of Filing Your Annual Returns Online

Convenience and Speed:

Online filing, through the Corporate Affairs Commission’s e-filing portal, offers the convenience of submitting your documents from anywhere, at any time. It’s a fast process, with instant electronic confirmation of submissions.

Environmental and Cost Advantage:

This paperless approach is not only eco-friendly but can also reduce the costs associated with printing and courier services.

Disadvantage of Filing Your Annual Returns Online

Despite its convenience, online filing can be a hurdle if you encounter technical issues or if you’re not comfortable with digital processes. In areas with unstable internet connections, this could be a significant impediment.

See Also: How to register a business name in Nigeria

Advantages of Filing Your Annual Returns Offline

Tactile Assurance:

For some, the physical submission of documents provides a sense of certainty. Having a stamped copy in hand right after filing can be reassuring.

Personal Interaction:

Should you need immediate clarification or guidance, interacting with staff at the CAC office can be advantageous.

See Also: How to register an NGO successfully in Nigeria

Disadvantage of Filing Your Annual Returns Offline

Offline filing requires travel to and from the CAC office, which can be time-consuming. The process may also involve longer queues and waiting times.

Should You File Your Annual Returns Online or Offline?

To decide between online and offline filing, assess your resources and needs. If your business has ready access to stable internet and you’re comfortable with digital platforms, online filing could save you time and money.

On the other hand, if you prefer personal interaction and direct submission, offline may be the way to go, provided you can afford the extra time and potential inconvenience.

Remember, the aim is to file accurately and on time, regardless of the method. Choose the one that best aligns with your business operations and personal preferences to ensure a smooth and compliant filing process.

See Also: Frequently Asked Questions about Business Registration in Nigeria

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Filing Annual Returns

To go through the steps of filing your annual returns successfully, you need to be watchful and avoid some common pitfalls.

Incorrect or Incomplete Information

The Pitfall: Filling out forms with incorrect details or leaving sections incomplete is one of the most common errors.

Avoidance Tip: Double-check all entries and cross-reference with your official documents. A second pair of eyes never hurts; consider having someone else review the forms before submission.

Missing the Deadline

The Pitfall: Time flies, and so do filing deadlines. Missing the deadline can lead to unnecessary penalties.

Avoidance Tip: Mark your calendar well in advance. Set multiple reminders leading up to the due date to ensure you file on time.

Neglecting Required Attachments

The Pitfall: Forgetting to attach necessary documents such as audited financial statements or proof of payment can invalidate your submission.

Avoidance Tip: Create a checklist of required documents as part of your filing process and tick them off as you attach each one.

Ignoring Signature Requirements

The Pitfall: A common oversight is not signing the documents where required, which can lead to the CAC deeming the submission incomplete.

Avoidance Tip: Scrutinize each page of the return form and accompanying documents for signature fields. Ensure authorized personnel sign as required.

Inadequate Record Keeping

The Pitfall: Many businesses fall short in maintaining comprehensive records, making it difficult to retrieve information when needed for filing.

Avoidance Tip: Implement a robust record-keeping system that allows you to access historical data readily. Regularly update and review your records.

By sidestepping these errors and applying these tips, you’ll streamline the steps when filing your annual returns.

See Also: Annual Returns filing in Nigeria- Everything you need to know about annual returns.

FAQs on Filing Annual Returns in Nigeria

What is the deadline for filing annual returns?

The deadline varies based on your company’s registration date. Typically, it’s due every year not later than 30 days after the anniversary of the company’s incorporation.

Can I file if my company didn’t trade this year?

Yes, you still need to file your annual returns even if your company is dormant.

What happens if I miss the filing deadline?

Late filing incurs penalties and could lead to additional audits and scrutiny from the CAC.

Do startups need to file in their first year?

Startups should file their first annual return 18 months after incorporation, even if they haven’t commenced business.

When to Choose Professional Help For Your Annual Returns Filing

If you’re unsure about the process, facing complexities due to the size of your business, or simply don’t have the time to ensure accuracy, it’s time to seek professional help. We are here to help you stay compliant with your taxes. Reach ReDahlia at 08188122223 or 08038874148.

See Also: How to file your annual returns successfully.


Filing your annual returns accurately and punctually is a testament to your business’s integrity. This process, while seemingly bureaucratic, is essential for your business’s growth and stability.

Take this responsibility seriously to prevent penalties and foster a reputation for reliability. And Remember, ReDahlia, the owner of Entrepreneurs.ng is here to guide you through the process. If you’re looking for professional assistance, reach out to us now to help with your business registration, annual returns and tax compliance- 08038874148 or 08188122223.

How We Can Help You Register Your Business And Comply With Taxes Monthly

Send us a message on WhatsApp- 08188122223 or 08038874148 to help you with your business registration and tax compliance.

Our Essential Compliance Service Covers:

Initial Registration for VAT/TIN Certificate: Complete facilitation of your initial VAT/TIN registration process with FIRS and LIRS.

 Initial Registration for PAYE, Business Premises, and Development Levy.

 Monthly PAYE: Computation of PAYE deductible, remittance of PAYE, and filing of monthly returns.

Monthly VAT: Computation of VAT payable, remittance of VAT, and filing of monthly returns, taking cognizance of applicable tax laws.

Annual Business Premises and Development Levy Renewal

On-Demand Premium Services

Should your business require our ProMAX Compliance Service, which includes account preparation, auditing, and TCC filing, please contact us directly. This premium service is tailored to your specific needs and billed upon request.

Why Choose Our Compliance Services?

Peace of Mind: With our expertise, you can rest assured that your compliance needs are in capable hands.

Cost Efficiency: Save on potential non-compliance penalties with our cost-effective services.

Expert Guidance: Our seasoned professionals keep your business compliant amidst regulatory changes.

Get in touch today by clicking the Contact Us page or sending us a message on WhatsApp: 08038874148 or 08188122223.

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If you want to work with our founder- Florence Chikezie to start a profitable and sustainable business, then enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program. She will take you from idea to starting your business in 30 days. At the end of the program, you will get a registered business with CAC, logo and brand assets, admin set-up, one-on-one consulting sessions and more. Click here to enrol.

Every week, she teaches practical business lessons that have helped thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. If you want to benefit from her teachings, click to sign up for the weekly business lesson here.

She is an internationally trained award-winning entrepreneur running three profitable businesses and a member of the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council. 

She also works with companies and established corporations to scale their impact and revenue. Reach us at Business@entrepreneurs.ng if you would like to transform your business.

See the different ways we can help increase your business success.



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