A total of 223,013 Irish companies were in existence on the CRO register in 2018. This compares with 180,013 in 2008 (14,723 new firms) and 175,818 in 1998 (20,874 new firms).
This surge resulted in over 505,000 submissions being filed during last year, a jump up from 485,133 in 2017, according to the body’s annual report.
The number of external companies on the Register increased by 3.8% in 2018 to 2,885 registered branches. These figures are dominated by 1,541 UK-origin firms, 335 from the Cayman Islands and 192 US firms.
A full 79% of all documents were filed electronically with 95% of companies being up-to-date in terms of filing of annual returns by year-end.
A total of 87% of the register is made up of limited companies, with 7% comprising companies limited by guarantee (CLGs).
The Companies Act 2014, under section 343(5), allows a company that is late in filing its annual return to make an application to the High Court or the District Court for the district in which it is registered office, for an order extending the time to file its annual return for that year.
Once an order is granted by the Court and complied with by the company, the annual return will be treated as being on-time and the company will not be required to pay late filing fees or suffer loss of audit exemption.
In 2018 the CRO received 1,252 notices of application to the District Court and eight for the High Court. Twenty-four applications were refused and 37 applications were withdrawn. 153 cases were adjourned to 2019.
A total of 66 companies were prosecuted by the CRO in the District Court for failing to file their 2017/18 annual returns on time and 57 companies (58 cases) were convicted.
Seven companies were adjourned to January 2019 and one case was struck out. Fines ranged from €500 to €5,000 in all convicted cases. Total fines came to €66,200.
The annual report notes that changes introduced in the Companies (Statutory Audits) Act 2018 mean that audit exemption is now lost for the following two years where an annual return is filed late and not in the current year.
An annual return that is being submitted late does not lose any potential audit exemption for that year but will not be eligible for audit exemption for the following two years.
During Q4 2019, the CRO will migrate all its registered data to a unified modern database platform.
All statutory information provided by companies to the CRO is publicly available on payment of a small fee.
2.3 million visits to website
Certain information, such as company name and registered office address, may be checked free of charge on the CRO website. Over 350,000 documents were purchased from the CRO website in 2018 and the website was visited 2.3m times.
In 2018, the number of new companies incorporated was 22,428, an increase of 0.6% over 2017 volumes.
There is now an average of 1,869 new companies registered per month and this is the highest number of new company registrations ever in the history of the State.
Since 2010, there have been 124,025 new companies incorporated. This contrasts with 11,492 during the decade of the 1980s and 24,621 between 1990 and 1999.
The years 2000-2009 saw 55,863 new firms start up. The number of new business names registered by the CRO in 2018 was 21,202, a 12% decrease on 2017 with 24,130 registered.
The 2018 expenditure for the CRO was €7.1m. CRO received €19.27 million in 2018, which represents an increase of 10% on the 2017 figure of €17.48m.
There has continued to be a reduction in late filing fees paid. 13,451 companies paid late filing fees meaning that the average late filing fee paid by each of these companies was €535.
The number of cheques received in the CRO reduced from 66,116 in 2017 (value €8.6m) to 18,495 in 2018 (value €2.3m). The CRO is currently reviewing alternative payment methods for customers who have traditionally paid by cheque.
Since 1 June 2018, the CRO no longer accepts cheques as a method of payment to top up a customer account.