Firms based abroad - Financial Conduct Authority

Firms based abroad

Published: 10/11/2015     Last Modified: 12/01/2016
Find out what protection you have if you have dealt with a firm based abroad.

European Economic Area

Firms that operate in the UK but have their head office in another European Economic Area (EEA) state will be authorised in that country and appear on our Register as ‘EEA authorised’. The EEA includes the EU states, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

A firm authorised in an EEA state can offer certain products or services in the UK and other EEA states if it has the relevant passport. In most cases the firm will still be regulated by its home-state regulator.

In some cases, we may think that the firm is a risk, but it still meets the relevant directive requirements, and can therefore conduct business in the UK. When this happens, we will work with the home-state regulator to mitigate any resulting risks.

How to check if a firm is EEA Authorised

Almost all financial services firms must be regulated by us to do business in the UK. These firms appear on our Register, with most being described as ‘Authorised’. Firms that are based in the EEA will appear on the register as EEA Authorised. You can check the Register to find out the status of the firm.

You should always clarify the firm’s complaints and compensation process when dealing with an EEA-authorised firm, as they may differ from a UK-authorised firm.

How to complain about an EEA Authorised firm

Step 1: Contact the firm directly

Any complaint should be taken up with the firm itself in the first instance.  If you remain dissatisfied once you have received the firm’s response, you may be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service or equivalent.  

If the firm has an establishment in the UK (e.g. it has a branch here) then the firm will be covered by the UK Financial Ombudsman Service and it may be able to look into your complaint.

Some firms without a presence in the UK will have signed up to the UK ombudsman’s complaints process; this is known as voluntary jurisdiction, however not all firms have signed up to this process. If this is the case you will need to contact the firm’s home state regulator or that state’s equivalent to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The firm should tell you who this is.

More information about ombudsman schemes

Further information about the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Financial Dispute Resolution Network also contains further information about ombudsman schemes in other EEA states.

Step 2: Contacting home state regulators

You can find out who a firm’s home state regulator is by visiting the financial services register, you can view this information under the Regulators heading.

See the relevant contact details of EEU and EEA regulators.

Claiming Compensation

If a firm is authorised in another EEA state, generally you will be covered by the compensation scheme of that country rather than the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Under our rules, incoming EEA firms are able to obtain top-up cover which may provide FSCS protection for their customers.

In this case, the FSCS will cooperate with the EEA firm’s home state compensation scheme. Compensation rules vary depending on the country the firm is authorised in, so ask the firm for specific details.

More information about the FSCS

For further information take visit the FSCS website.

Consumer Helpline

Telephone: 0800 111 6768

See more ways to contact us

External links

Financial Ombudsman Service 

Helps settle consumer complaints with financial services firms

Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)

Protects customers of authorised financial firms that go bust



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