Filing of Structured Annual Financial Reports

About Structured Reporting

As part of the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) initiative, there is a standard for digital financial reporting by companies with transferable securities admitted to trading on UK regulated markets. 

Filing Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) with the FCA for in-scope issuers on this basis is mandatory for financial years starting on or after January 2021, but we have encouraged issuers to file on a voluntary basis beforehand to improve transparency and to help themselves prepare. 

More information on the ESEF initiative can be found here

Issuers should use the dedicated case category within the ESS submission portal to file structured AFRs with the NSM (‘Annual Financial Reports in Structured Electronic format (ESEF)’). The ‘National Storage Mechanism’ case category will continue to be used for unstructured (*.pdf) filings of AFRs. 

Issuers and the public can use the NSM to view and download structured AFRs. 

Summary of the Structured Filing Process 

Issuers should ensure they are familiar with the structured reporting requirements, including the scope of the regime, which type of structured format is appropriate and taxonomies that we permit. 

The filing process is summarised below. There is an option for companies to submit tagged reports for validation only – i.e. to test submissions. This will mean the AFR will not be published, but an issuer will still receive feedback on whether there were any errors or warnings. 

For detailed instructions please follow the NSM submitter user guide

Step 1: registration and authorisation 

If submitters have not previously used ESS, they will need to register. Submitters will also need to be authorised by the issuers they want to submit on behalf of. We recommend submitters register and seek authorisation ahead of submission to avoid delay. Our NSM submitter user guide provides information about this process. There is also further information on the NSM: help and FAQs publication. 

Step 2: producing your structured AFR 

Depending on which taxonomy you use, you will need to follow the appropriate reporting manual. For example, ESMA provides ESEF Reporting Manuals which explain how to prepare AFRs using ESEF taxonomies. We also have some FCA-specific requirements necessitated by the design of the FCA’s systems. We have issued some guidelines that highlight these. 

Step 3: submitting your structured AFRs 

Companies must submit structured AFRs on ESS using a specific case type. AFRs tagged according to a taxonomy must be uploaded in a *.zip package format. AFRs not tagged according to a taxonomy must be submitted as a *.html file (we are aiming to enhance our systems so as to allow the submission of files with an *.xhtml extension). 

Step 4: checks and validation 

It is crucial that structured submissions are of sufficient and appropriate quality. The Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Lab has undertaken a review of tagged filings and has identified some areas where quality is not of the expected standard. The Lab’s report provides details of key issues that issuers might want to consider. More information on the importance of quality submissions can be found in a joint FCA and FRC letter.  

Files submitted to the NSM will be subject to checks against the filing guidelines and, where tagging is used, the taxonomy rules. If there are any errors generated, files will be rejected and will not be published on the NSM. Where a rejection occurs, the submitter will be provided with an explanation and will need to resubmit using a new case. If only warnings are identified, the submission will be published. However, issuers are advised to review and address these warnings ahead of future submissions. 

Publishing Annual Financial Reports on the NSM 

We publish AFRs on the NSM. See the NSM user guide for instructions on how to view and download structured AFRs on the NSM. 

If you have any questions 

Relevant information can be found in the links provided above.  Any questions related to the application of taxonomies (including the nature of errors and warnings) need to be directed to the relevant taxonomy-issuing bodies. Issuers may also need to seek help from their advisors or companies that specialise in structured reporting. For issues related to the FCA’s submission process that are not covered in our published information, please email [email protected]


Page updates

22/11/2021: Information added
04/10/2021: Information changed Page updated to reflect move from ESEF optional to mandatory