How to apply for authorisation

Whether you’re a consumer credit firm, investment firm or other financial services provider, you should prepare your application well in advance.

It may take you some time to gather all the information needed for your application. Before getting started, check that the services you intend to carry on are regulated activities that require our authorisation.

You'll need to submit your application through our online system Connect, so make sure you register.

Don't worry if you're not sure which firm type you are – we can do this for you when assessing your Connect application. Start off by following the links below in whichever section is relevant to you.

Consumer credit firms

Find out what you need to do before applying to us for authorisation:

Investment firms

Find out what you need to do before applying to us for authorisation:

Collective investment schemes (CIS) must be authorised or recognised by us to be promoted to the general public in the UK. A UK FCA-authorised CIS (which may also be called a ‘regulated CIS’) 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)

A recognised CIS is a non-UK fund established either in another EEA country or in a non-EEA country. Section 264 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) allows an EEA CIS to be recognised in the UK if it satisfies the requirements made under that section. Section 272 of FSMA allows a non-EEA CIS to be recognised in the UK on an individual basis if it meets the criteria set out in that section.

Unregulated collective investment schemes (UCIS) cannot be promoted to the general public in the UK. Promotion of such schemes to retail investors is restricted by the non-mainstream pooled investment (NMPI) regulations. 

Find out more about:

Banks, credit unions and insurers

Banks, credit unions and insurers are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), and are regulated by the FCA and the PRA.

The PRA is your single point of contact for the application process.

See our guidance for what you need to do before applying.

Benchmark administrators

The information required depends on the application process type that you will be following (authorisation, registration, recognition and/or endorsement) and the type of benchmarks that you will be administering (critical, significant, non significant, commodity benchmarks, interest rate benchmarks and/or regulated data benchmarks).

A checklist is available as part of each application pack.

Find out more about:

Credit rating agencies, trade repositories and securitisation repositories

We are the regulator of credit rating agencies (CRAs), trade repositories (TRs) and securitisation repositories (SRs) in the UK.

To apply to become a CRA, a TR or an SR, please follow the relevant link below:

Payment services and e-money firms

If you offer people payment accounts, pre-paid cards or other such financial services, you may need to be authorised or registered with us – or both authorised and registered.

Find out more about:

Crowdfunding

We regulate loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding, but not donation-based, pre-payment or rewards-based crowdfunding.

Find out more about crowdfunding and authorisation.

Innovative firms

You can request tailored regulatory support from our Innovation Hub.

If your firm is ready to test its innovations in the market, you can apply to our Regulatory Sandbox.

Our Advice Unit also provides regulatory feedback on automated advice and guidance models.

Change of Legal Status

If you change your firm’s legal status you will need to submit a new firm authorisation application. You will also have to sign a Deed Poll declaration. This requires your firm to deal with any complaints from existing customers in the same way that it would customers of your new legal entity.

We have this requirement to prevent firms leaving behind their obligations to their customers by changing their legal entity. Before your application is approved, we will ask you to cancel the previous entity's permissions.

The new application will be assessed in the same way as any other new authorisation application, so you should make sure you have read our 'How to apply for authorisations' pages, and have everything ready for assessment when you submit your application. 

Claims management firms

You must be authorised by us if your firm carries on claims management activity. Find out what to read and what you need to do before applying.

Sensitive business names

You need to get a view from us and consent from a Secretary of State (via Companies House) to use a business name containing certain sensitive words relating to financial services. See a list of these terms and find out how to request an FCA view regarding your application.

Non-disclosure of information

It is important that you fully disclose to us any information that we ask for. We take very seriously any non-disclosure of information that could impact our assessment, especially where there is an apparent attempt to mislead.

If in doubt, it is better to disclose information rather than withhold it as the success of your application could be affected if we find out that you have deliberately withheld information or provided false or incomplete information.

Under our Principles for Business that all regulated firms must meet, we make it clear that we expect firms to be open and honest in their dealings with us. Knowingly or recklessly giving us information that is false or misleading can be a criminal offence under section 398 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.

Our commitments to you

When you apply for authorisation, you need to provide complete and detailed information about your business – for example, its structure, key individuals and financial resources.

In return, we offer you the commitments listed below. These commitments cover all types of application made for authorisation or to vary permissions. The same principles also cover all other types of application for authorisations which are not routinely completed in under a month.

Our commitments are:

  • We will tell you that we have received your application within 3 working days.
  • We will contact you again within 3 weeks, normally to tell you which case officer we have assigned to your application or to tell you the date by which we will assign your application. The assigned case officer will handle all communication about your application. We will also give you an alternative person to contact if your assigned case officer is unavailable.
  • If we subsequently have to assign your case to a different case officer, we will tell you this within 3 working days of making the change and give you the new contact details. The new officer will carefully review the case file to avoid asking for information already held.
  • We will acknowledge all communications from you within 2 working days of receipt. This may be by means of an automated response.
  • We will usually give you a substantive response to a query within 10 working days of receipt. If this is not possible, we will reply within the 10-working day period to tell you when you should expect to receive a substantive response.
  • We will give you clear deadlines when we ask you to send us additional information.
  • The designated case officer will give you an update on the current status of your case at least monthly and often more frequently. You will be notified within a week once your application is considered complete, at which point you will also be given an indication as to by when your application is likely to be decided.

We aim to meet our commitments consistently but if you feel that the commitments are not being met for your application, you can ask your case officer for the name of their manager who will ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately.

These commitments will apply until we approve your application or tell you of our decision that it should be refused, in which case we will apply the formal refusal process.

Please note that failure to provide requested information may lead to delays in assessing your application.

Find out more about our authorisation process.

Page updates

01/06/2021: Information added Change of Legal Status information added
19/05/2021: Information added Claims management companies (CMCs).
29/04/2021: Information added Sections on banks etc, CRAs etc, crowdfunding and innovative firms