HMRC Companies House Return Service PDF Filing on Ubuntu (64 bit)

Ubuntu includes a pretty good, basic PDF reader called “Document Viewer / evince”. The Return Service from Companies House uses a PDF document which needs the support offered by Adobe’s Reader. Installing Adobe Reader on the latest (14.04 LTS at the time of writing) 64-bit Ubuntu is not quite as simple as pointing and clicking.

Here are the steps I needed:

Get and install adobe reader by following the instructions from which follow the heading “For Ubuntu 14.04 (and 13.10), 32 or 64-bit”

I’m guessing that installs a 32-bit version of Adobe Reader which will start up when run from the command line but will complain about some missing modules which can be installed by

sudo apt-get install libcanberra-gtk-module:i386 libidn11:i386

and a missing theme fixed also by installing

sudo apt-get install gtk2-engines-murrine

One more complaint fixed by installing

sudo apt-get install unity-gtk2-module:i386

… left a complaint about “overlay-scrollbars” as the only outstanding error message at the command line. It’s not obvious what installing these extra modules improved in the PDF document.

The Companies House Return Service PDF opens up in evince (the default PDF viewer) with a message that says the PDF document won’t work in all viewers and to ‘Please Wait’. The wait never ends and it must be assumed that evince doesn’t support all the features the Companies House PDF requires. Opening the same file in Adobe Reader shows (for me) a blank screen for 20 seconds or so, before the introduction page appears. Navigation through the Return is by ‘Back’ and ‘Next’ buttons at the foot of each page.

One further problem is that HMRC appear to be using a self-signed certificate which you have to explicitly ‘trust’ in Adobe Reader. The instructions for this are contained in a PDF. Direct links to the PDF are all over the Web, but the person who would follow instructions to accept a self-signed certificate from a directly-linked PDF document does not deserve security.

Here’s my best attempt at a link to the document that explains how to trust the self-signed Companies House security certificate. Satisfy yourself that you’re looking at the Companies House website before downloading and following those instructions! The instructions are in the document linked as “a guide on changing settings in Adobe Reader”.

After trusting Edward Tucker’s certificate, you should be ready to start filing. Good luck!

Wouldn’t this be so much easier if they’d just made a web-based Return Filing Service?

1 thought on “HMRC Companies House Return Service PDF Filing on Ubuntu (64 bit)

  1. Sean

    This didn’t work at all this year (Ubuntu 15.04). Authentication failed (with no visible reason) at the first authentication stage and at the final submission stage. Each time Companies House asked us to email in the CT600 document. The first time they returned the document in an ‘authenticated’ state to allow completion of the accounting data. At the submit stage, the normal “thank you for using the Companies House WebFiling service” email was received! It’d be interesting to hear success / fail stories of other Linux users.


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