Credit rating agencies

The transition period has ended and we have become the UK regulator of credit rating agencies (CRAs). Any legal person wishing to issue credit ratings in the UK for regulatory purposes, publicly or by subscription, will need to be registered or certified with us.

CRAs issue credit ratings, which are opinions on the creditworthiness of an issuer or security. Firms may use credit ratings in the calculation of their capital requirements and for assessing risks in investment activity.

The current EU Credit Rating Agencies Regulation was onshored into UK law on 31 December 2020, with the necessary modifications contained in the CRA Regulations 2019.

Registered and certified firms

As at the end of the transition period, existing CRAs operating in the UK do so either:

  • on the basis that they have converted their previous European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) registration or certification into an FCA registration or certification, or 
  • under the Temporary Registration Regime (TRR) until their advance application submitted prior to 31 December 2020 has been assessed

You can find all these firms on the Financial Services Register

These channels are now closed to new applications. However, there’s more information below if you want to apply for a new registration or certification.

All applications after 31 December 2020 will be assessed in accordance with the usual procedures in the CRA Regulation, as brought into UK law under the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Applying for a new registration

If you are a new UK-based CRA wishing to apply for registration in the UK in order to provide rating services in the UK, you must:

If you have any queries, please email us.

Applying for a new certification 

If you are a third-country CRA wishing to apply for certification in the UK in order to provide rating services in the UK, you must:

If you have any queries, please email us.

For full details of our application and periodic fees, see our Policy Statement 19/10.

Please use our registration notes or certification notes to help with completing either form.

Usage of credit ratings in the UK

Credit ratings to be used for regulatory use in the UK need to be issued or endorsed by a registered or certified CRA.

We have published the current list of registered UK CRAs, and those from a third country that have been certified by us. We’ll update this list as necessary, and it does not supersede the Financial Services Register.

Users or credit ratings should now be prepared to ensure they are operationally ready to use ratings issued or endorsed by FCA-registered or certified CRAs.

Endorsement

The endorsement regime is available to third-country CRA groups that have a legal presence in the UK. When a UK CRA endorses credit ratings from a third country affiliate, those ratings can be used in the UK for regulatory purposes.

We have published a list of third-country jurisdictions where the legal and supervisory framework meet the conditions for endorsement to take place.

We have also taken steps to ensure the endorsement of ratings from the EU into the UK can take place. Our statement in October 2020, set out the outcome of our assessment of the legal and supervisory regime of the EU as meeting the conditions for endorsement.

However, the decision to endorse some or all the credit ratings is one that lies exclusively with UK CRAs. Therefore, those CRAs must ensure they comply with all the requirements in Article 4(3) of CRAR, as amended by the CRAR SI.

Certification and equivalence

The certification regime is available to CRAs established in third countries when they are rating third-country issuers or instruments – provided their credit rating activities are not of systemic importance to the financial stability of the UK.

For certification to take place the UK Government needs to have determined the legal and supervisory framework in the CRA’s home jurisdiction to be equivalent to the UK’s CRA legal and supervisory framework. 

We have published a list of countries deemed equivalent.

This list will be reviewed and updated when HM Treasury take future equivalence decisions.

CRAs that want to apply for FCA certification to issue credit ratings in the UK, will need to meet the conditions set out in Article 5 of UK CRAR.

Our policy statement containing onshored BTS

Binding technical standards (BTS) that were made under the EU CRA Regulation and which were in force immediately before exit day have been automatically onshored into UK law.

In our Brexit policy statement, we set out the amendments we have made to those onshored CRA BTS to adapt them to the UK’s domestic regime after the transition period.

Our Technical Standards contains the amendments to the relevant BTS and has repealed some of the BTS that were not relevant for the UK. These BTS govern the standards for CRA registration applications, methodologies, fees and reporting requirements. The amendments to these BTS came into effect on 31 December 2020.

Page updates

02/03/2021: Link added List of third country jurisdictions meeting the conditions for endorsement or certification of credit ratings in the UK
04/01/2021: Link added Public Ratings Database