Our refusal process

Learn about our refusal process when we think that your application doesn’t meet the standard for authorisation.

If we recommend that your application is refused

If your case officer doesn’t consider that your application meets the regulatory standard required, they'll recommend to an FCA executive decision-maker (EDM) that it's refused.

This doesn’t mean your application has been refused. It means your application has entered our decision-making process for proposed refusals.

If we refuse your application, your application fee won't be refunded.

During the process

The exact process will vary depending on the statutory requirements in respect of the type of application being refused.

If you're applying for registration under the money laundering regulations (MLRs) there's no statutory right to withdraw your application, and withdrawals are at our discretion.

Our Authorisations team will engage with you during your case assessment regarding the process. You may wish to seek independent advice to support you during the process.

We're committed to procedural fairness and high-quality decision-making. We appreciate that the process can be daunting. As well as the steps below, you can read more about our refusal process in our Handbook.

Our decision-making process for proposed refusals

The steps below show the typical end-to-end process – from the point a recommendation is put forward by a case officer, all the way through to an application being refused. However, note that at either the Warning Notice or Decision Notice stage, the EDM could decide not to refuse your application.


Case assessment

Your case officer will assess your application (and any additional supporting information you provide) and decide whether they can recommend to an EDM that your application should be approved or refused.


Informal feedback

Your case officer isn't obliged to give you feedback about your application before they make a recommendation to refuse, but they will do when it's appropriate.

If you withdraw your application at this stage, the application falls away and the assessment process comes to an end. Some applicants find this useful because it means they can take as much time as they need to address their case officer’s concerns before reapplying.



If you don't withdraw your application, your case officer will recommend to an EDM that they (the EDM) issue a Warning Notice proposing to refuse your application.


Warning Notice

If the EDM agrees with the case officer’s recommendation, they (the EDM) will issue a Warning Notice. The Warning Notice will explain why the EDM is proposing to refuse your application.

We'll usually give you copies of the evidence the EDM considered in determining whether to issue the Warning Notice, although this isn't mandatory.



You may respond to the Warning Notice by making representations to the EDM. The Warning Notice will set out the timeframe for doing so.

We'll only accept written representations unless there are exceptional reasons why you need to make oral representations. The representations will be considered by the EDM that issued the Warning Notice wherever possible, or an appropriate alternative.

The EDM may also ask your case officer to respond to any representations you make.

In reaching their decision, the EDM will consider:

  • the representations
  • any response where requested
  • all the evidence they've received

Decision Notice

The EDM will then make their decision. If they decide to refuse the application, they'll issue a Decision Notice which sets out the reasons for the refusal. Once this happens your application has been determined, so you cannot withdraw it. 

We may publish the Decision Notice on our website in accordance with the applicable legal framework regarding publication.


Referral to the Upper Tribunal

You have the right to refer the Decision Notice to the Upper Tribunal. This will be confirmed in the Decision Notice, along with the deadline for you to do so and the Upper Tribunal contact details.


Final Notice

If you don't refer the Decision Notice to the Upper Tribunal, we'll issue a Final Notice.

If you refer the Decision Notice to the Upper Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal will determine the reference. If the Upper Tribunal agrees with the FCA, we'll issue a Final Notice.

We may publish a Final Notice on our website in accordance with the applicable legal framework regarding publication.

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