Aim of this survey

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) is the main structural business survey conducted by 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 also provides a major contribution to the Blue Book, which is produced annually by our National Accounts Team and used to inform HM Treasury in managing economic policy.

The ABS is also the main collection module so that the UK can meet its legal obligation to Eurostat (the European Union statistical body) in collecting and providing data under the Structural Business Statistics Regulation (SBS).

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

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 19 February and 26 February

Catering sector dispatch date: rolling dispatch from February to April

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

Catering sector return-by date: the beginning of June

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

Please complete and return the questionnaire following the guidelines on the front page.

At the moment this survey is not available to complete online. However, due to the current circumstances we are experiencing, editable PDF's are available for this questionnaire. Please contact the survey team for further information; when calling you will need a reference number and a survey code. These can be found on the front of any communication you have received from us.

We are currently developing a secure online collection platform. You will receive a letter notifying you when you can complete the ABS online. We appreciate your patience.

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: +441633 810495.

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

Related downloads