Aim of this survey

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) is the main structural business survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It crosses most business sectors, collecting financial data from businesses' end-year accounts, including turnover, wages and salaries, purchases of goods and services, stocks and capital expenditure.

The ABS is an important source of data used in the compilation of the input-output annual supply and use tables for national accounts. It is also the key resource for understanding the detail structure conduct and performance of businesses across the UK. The information you supply helps to measure the UK economy and are used by the government to determine economic policy.

Other users include the Bank of England, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish and Welsh Governments, local authorities, academics, researchers, the media, businesses and the public. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) carries out its own Annual Business Survey and provides the Northern Ireland data to ONS to compile the UK results.

The ABS also provides an important benchmarking source for monthly and quarterly ONS surveys such as Acquisitions and Disposals of Capital Assets and Stocks.

What you need to know

To complete the survey, you will need the following information:

  • trading period

  • income

  • expenditure

  • capital assets and/or value of stocks held

  • international trade in services

  • international trade in goods

  • research and development

Please provide details in the comment box at the end of the survey, this will reduce the likelihood of us contacting you to query your data and, also helps us to tell us the industry story.

All information you provide is strictly confidential.

Survey information

Selection criteria: UK trading businesses registered for VAT and/or PAYE

Population: approximately 2.4 million

Sample: approximately 62,000

Frequency: annually

Dispatch date: rolling dispatch between 7 March and 11 March

Return-by date: the beginning of May or within two months of the business year-end

Dispatch and return-by dates are a guide. They are subject to change due to national holidays and weekends.

Why you were selected

Your business has been selected from a directory of businesses in the UK, which are registered for VAT and/or PAYE or with Companies House. Your response ensures we represent your industry.

The ABS is conducted under the provisions of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. Once selected, your business is legally obliged to comply. You cannot appeal your selection.

Why you have received this survey

We survey businesses of all sizes to ensure our statistics are representative of the UK economy. We select large businesses (those with 100 and over employees) for any relevant ONS business surveys because their information is so significant.

We select some small and medium businesses, usually for a set period of time, then replace them with other businesses from their industry. They are very important to us as their trading patterns are often very different to large businesses.

How to complete this survey

The ABS is gradually moving to our online Secure Data Collection platform. Currently, there is only a proportion of the survey sample online. Until we tell you it’s time to complete this survey online, please continue to return your data in the usual way.

We will write to you once we are ready for you to complete your ABS online. Your letter or email will include a unique enrolment code and explain how to register and complete the survey.

Complete this survey online

If you have any difficulties enrolling, please email surveys@ons.gov.uk or call us on 0300 1234 931 providing your company name, reference number and the survey ID code 202.

If you are still selected to complete a paper version of the survey, editable PDFs are available for this questionnaire. To request a PDF please email surveycomments@ons.gov.uk providing your company name, reference number and the survey ID code 202. These can be found on any communication you have received from us.

Please note that reminders are issued automatically, so you may receive one if you submit data just before or after the return date.

If you need help

If your question is not answered above, you may be able to find the answer in the About ONS business surveys section.

You can call us on 0300 1234 937. Please enter the three-digit survey ID 202.

From outside the UK: +44 1633 810495.

Er mwyn gwneud cais am ffurflen Gymraeg (to speak to someone in Welsh): 0300 1234 921.