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

If the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period, the passporting regime will fall away and EEA-based firms will no longer be able to passport into the UK from exit day onwards, unless they enter the temporary permission regime.

We are continuing to process inward passport notifications as usual. However, with less than 30 days left, we cannot guarantee that any new establishment passport notifications will be processed before Brexit. For example, under most directives, it can take up to 60 days to process an establishment passport from the date we receive the notification. If a new establishment passport notification has not been processed by exit day, and there is not an implementation period, the notification will lapse. Under these circumstances, EEA-based firms may need to seek authorisation in the UK and where they require UK permission and do not have it must stop carrying on regulated activities, payment services and electronic money services in the UK.

EEA-based firms applying for a new inward cross-border services passport to the UK, or updating an existing passport, should make sure they allow enough time for their home-state regulator and then us to process these notifications before exit day.

Firms should note they cannot submit a notification for the temporary permissions regime if they have not completed the passporting notification process and qualify for authorisation under Schedule 3 or qualify under Schedule 4 to FSMA before exit day.  In the case of EEA authorised payment institutions, EEA registered account information service providers, or EEA authorised electronic money institutions, they cannot submit a notification for the temporary permissions regime unless they have completed the passport notification process and are permitted to provide payment or emoney services in the UK in accordance with Regulation 138 of the PSRs or Reg 63 of the EMRs before exit day.

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
.