Complain about a firm based abroad

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.

If we think that a firm is a risk, but it still meets the relevant directive requirements, it can still conduct business in the UK. When this happens, we will work with the home-state regulator to mitigate any 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 the Financial Services 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 a firm.

You should always find out about the 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 first be taken up with the firm itself. If you are still unhappy when you receive 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 (eg, it has a branch here), then it will be covered by the UK Financial Ombudsman Service, which means it may be able to look into your complaint.

Some firms without a presence in the UK will have signed up to the Financial Ombudsman Service’s complaints process; this is known as voluntary jurisdiction. However, not all firms will choose to do this.

If a firm hasn't signed up, 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

Find out more about the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Financial Dispute Resolution Network also has more 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 find this information under the 'Regulators' heading.

Find 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 can 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.

Firms based outside of the EEA (eg USA, Canada, China)

All financial services firms that wish to do business in the UK must be regulated by us and have a branch in the UK. These firms appear on our Register, with most being described as ‘Authorised’. 

Any complaint should be taken up with the firm itself in the first instance. 

If you are still unhappy when you have received the firm’s response, you may be able to take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, or equivalent. 

Compensation rules will vary depending on the country the firm is authorised in, so ask the firm for specific details.