Passporting

Find out how a firm can ‘passport’ to establish a presence or carry out its permitted activities in another country in the European Economic Area (EEA).

If your UK-authorised firm wants to provide financial advice, set up a base or run permitted activities in an EEA state, you can apply for a ‘passport’ to do this.

The EEA states are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Republic of), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

You may need a different passport to be able to give advice on different products – even if you are advising the same client on a range of products, or a small number of clients.

You may also need a domestic authorisation in the EEA state in question for a business you run that is outside a passport’s remit.

As long as you meet the conditions in the relevant directive, you can either:

  • set up a branch in an EEA state (an ‘establishment’ or ‘branch’ passport)
  • provide cross-border services or advice (a ‘services’ passport)

Passports are country and advice specific and cannot be used in a ‘one size fits all’ way.

Check what passport(s) your firm currently has on the Financial Services Register.

When appointing an agent located in another EEA member state, you need to notify us under the right of establishment. 

Non-EEA states

Passporting rights only apply within the EEA, ie you cannot use them for places like the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, as they are not EEA member states.

Although Switzerland is not an EEA state, Swiss general insurers can set up an establishment in the EEA under special bilateral treaties between the EU and Switzerland. EEA general insurers also have similar rights regarding Switzerland under these treaties.

Special arrangements also apply to Gibraltar, under the Gibraltar Order. For the purposes of providing cross border services or exercising the right of establishment in Gibraltar, please follow the same instructions as for passporting to EEA states via apply for a ‘passport’. We will then notify the Gibraltar regulator.

Inward passporting

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. You should check about things like complaints and compensation when dealing with an EEA-authorised firm on the Financial Services Register, as they may differ from a UK-authorised firm.

Firms that are passporting into the UK under the Payment Services Directive 2 or the Second Electronic Money Directive will not be displayed on the Register nor will their UK-established agents. You should check the register of the firm’s home-state regulator to confirm what business the firm can conduct in the UK and see the list of its agents.

When we receive a notification, we look at the risk that an incoming firm presents (we get this information from the home-state regulator) and whether the firm meets our requirements under the relevant directive.

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.

Inward passporting notifications received by us during the lead up to the UK leaving the EU

In the lead up to the UK leaving the EU, we will continue to process inward passport notifications as usual.

However, if there is not an implementation period and the passporting regime falls away when the UK leaves the EU, EEA-based firms will no longer be able to passport into the UK and may instead need to seek UK authorisation.

For those EEA-based firms that have an inward passport to the UK in place before exit day, the temporary permissions regime will provide a backstop.  It will allow these firms to continue operating in the UK within the scope of their current passport for a limited period after exit day, while seeking full UK authorisation, if appropriate.

However, EEA-based firms wishing to update their existing inward passport to the UK or apply for a new inward passport to the UK, should make sure they allow enough time for their home-state regulator and then us to process these notifications.

For example, under most directives, it can take up to 60 days to process an establishment passport from the date we receive the notification.

Firms wishing to use the temporary permissions regime should note that it will not be possible to submit a notification to enter the regime until the firm is granted permission under Schedule 3 to FSMA.

Passporting fees

We do not charge a fee for passport notifications, but the host state may charge a fee to register your firm.

We charge authorised payment institutions (APIs) and authorised electronic money institutions (AEMIs) an annual fee of £3 per transaction for adding, amending or removing agent forms.

Further information

Read more about passporting in SUP13 of our Handbook or in Payment Services and Electronic Money –
Our Approach
.