See if your firm should be authorised or registered, what forms you will need to supply and what fees you will have to pay.

The Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) says any firm or individual who carries out a regulated activity in the UK (this includes dual-regulated firms) must be authorised or registered by us, unless they are exempt.

We have separate information on authorisation for consumer credit firms, payment services institutions, e-money firms and mutual societies.

Solo-regulated firms

Firms that are only regulated by us can follow our simple four-step authorisation application process.

Dual-regulated firms

Some firms, including banks, credit unions and insurance firms, are regulated by us for the way they conduct their business, and by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) for prudential requirements.

If you are a dual-regulated firm and want to become authorised, you should make a single application to the PRA, as it is the lead regulator for all dual-regulated firms. They will pass your application to us and we will both assess it against our threshold conditions. We will then arrange a series of meetings with you to discuss your plans and progress.

The PRA will make the final decision on your application, but it can only authorise a dual-regulated firm with our consent.

Read more about authorisation for:


Some firms may only need to be registered rather than authorised. This usually means they are run in a lower-risk environment, so we do not need as much detail about their business or protect the funds they receive from customers for payment services.

Registered firms or societies include:

  • some payment services providers
  • e-money institutions
  • some friendly and registered societies (co-operative societies, community benefit societies, and societies previously referred to as industrial and provident societies)
  • working men's clubs

Exemptions and exclusions

Some types of company and individuals might not need to be authorised. These are:

  • appointed representatives (agents for the authorised principal firm)
  • professional firms - like solicitors, accountants or actuaries - that run regulated activities alongside their main business
  • local authorities or some housing groups that run insurance mediation or mortgage activities.

Exclusions are conditions that turn normally regulated activities into unregulated ones. So if you rely on an exclusion, you won't need authorisation to do it.

Examples of exclusion include:

  • introducer exclusion
  • overseas persons exclusion

Appointed Representatives (ARs)

When we authorise a firm, it may wish to appoint a person or firm to carry out regulated activities and act as its agent. The authorised firm is then known as the 'principal'. The principal takes full responsibility for seeing that the AR complies with our rules.

Read more about the relationship a firm has with its AR.

Authorised funds

An authorised fund, which may also be called an 'authorised CIS' (collective investment scheme), must be established in the UK and take one of these legal forms:

  • authorised contractual scheme (ACS)
  • authorised unit trust (AUT)
  • investment company with variable capital (ICVC)

Read more about authorised and recognised funds.


Last updated: 28 Sep 2015

First published: 06 May 2015