Rural Payments: registering and updating your details

Updated 22 June 2017

Planned maintenance of the Rural Payments service

There will be times when the Rural Payments service is unavailable because of essential planned maintenance and updates.

RPA will aim to minimise the disruption to users by scheduling these planned times for evenings after 6pm, and at weekends. This may not always be possible, but we will try to give as much notice as possible of daytime unavailability.

From To Notes
6pm Friday 30 June 7am Monday 3 July System unavailable
Saturday 8 July Sunday 9 July Provisional dates

What is the Rural Payments service?

The Rural Payments service is Defra’s online registration system for farmers, animal keepers and rural traders and businesses.

They can use it to register their details, see and update digital maps of their land and make online applications for certain rural grants and payments.

It can be used by any person or firm representing a farmer or farming business – such as a firm of agricultural agents.

Throughout the Rural Payments service, there is onscreen guidance which explains how to use it.

You must register on the Rural Payments service if you intend to keep farmed animals (or livestock) on your land or business premises.

Who has to register

Anyone can choose to register on the Rural Payments service but you must register if you are a:

  • business importing or exporting agricultural products
  • cattle keeper recording animal movements
  • farmer or business claiming rural grants and payments
  • a person or business (like an ‘agent’ or a firm of agents) who intend to act on behalf of another registered business

Getting started – verifying your identity

As with many other government services online, you must verify your identity before you can register for the first time. You can do this in 2 ways:

  • online with GOV.UK Verify – this gives you simple, trusted and secure access to all public services on GOV.UK, or
  • by calling the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301 - this gives you access to the Rural Payments service only

After you’ve verified your identity, you can sign in to the Rural Payments service and start to register. You will need to create a password.

Register your personal and business details

When you sign in for the first time you will need to register your personal and business details. The details you register will be the details used to contact you in future.

You only need to do this if you used GOV.UK ‘Verify’ (see above). If you rang RPA to verify your identity, they will create your personal profile for you.

Personal details

You will need to register details about you, including:

  • your name
  • your address
  • your email address

Once you’ve registered these, you will receive a Customer Reference Number (CRN) which is individual to you.

Business details

You will need to register details about your business, including:

  • business name
  • business address
  • business email address
  • type of business (sole trader, partnership etc)

If you want the business to receive any rural grants and payments in future, you will need to register bank account details. You can only do this over the phone – call RPA on 03000 200 301 and choose the ‘bank’ option.

Once you’ve registered these, you will receive one or more of the following reference numbers for your business (depending on what sort of business it is):

  • Single Business Identifier (SBI)
  • Trader Registration Number (TRN)
  • Vendor Registration Number (VRN)
  • Firm Reference Number (FRN)

Once you have your reference number(s), you can finish creating your account.

Give someone else permission to act on your behalf

You can give other people access to your business and there are different levels of permission you can give them depending on what you want them to be able to do.

You can only do this if you have full permission yourself and the other person is also registered.

When RPA is sending an email to a customer or their agent, it uses the email address held on the Rural Payments service for the person with the relevant permission (see below). RPA can only accept an email from a business if:

  • it is from an email address that is registered on the Rural Payments service
  • the person sending the email has the relevant permission for the business and subject they are contacting RPA about.

How RPA decide who to contact about Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

When RPA need to contact a business which has more than one person registered to it, they will consider who has which ‘permission level’ before deciding who to contact.

The table below explains who they will contact in various circumstances:

Subject Permission heading and level Who RPA will contact
BPS claim processing information

(not financial, entitlements or land information)
‘Basic Payment Scheme’ and ‘Submit’ RPA will use the following priority order when deciding who to contact:

1. Firm of agents (More than one agent from a firm of agents)
2. Agent (one agent)
3. Customer (if only one has the relevant permission)
4. Business address (if more than one customer within the business has the relevant permission)
Entitlements ‘Entitlements’ and ‘Amend’ as above
Land ‘Land details’ and ‘Amend’ as above
Land ‘Land details’ and ‘Amend’ as above
Business and/or financial information

(not claim statements and remittance advice)
‘Business details’ and ‘Full’ or ‘Business details’ and ‘Make legal changes’ as above


Smith’s Farm has three agents and two customers associated with it. They all hold BPS Submit permissions. RPA would send a BPS claim processing query to the Firm of Agents address.

Example 2

White Farm has no agents but three customers associated with it. They all hold BPS Submit permissions. RPA would send a BPS claim processing query to the Registered Business address.

Some BPS information is sent to a particular person or address – either by paper or by email:

Product Method of contact Person or permission level that receives the information
Paper BP5 form Paper Sent to the business address registered on the Rural Payments service.

If someone subsequently requests a form, it will be sent to the address they provide. They must have ‘Basic Payment Scheme’ permissions levels of Submit/Amend/View to do this.
Acknowledgement card (receipt) for paper application or request (BP5 or RLE1) Paper Sent to the business address registered on the Rural Payments service
Remittance advice or Claim statement Paper Sent to the business address registered on the Rural Payments service
Confirmation of bank account change Paper Individual letter(s) sent to each person with ‘Business details – Full or Make legal changes’ permission
Inspection report Email or paper Sent to the business address registered on the Rural Payments service
Information about businesses going through Probate Email or paper Sent to the Executors of the estate or the nominated individual responsible for the estate until probate is granted
Information about Bankruptcy and insolvency cases Email or paper Sent to official receivers

‘My messages’ in the Rural Payments service

You can use the ‘My messages’ screen in the Rural Payments service to see online messages about some transactions.

If you don’t open a message after 7 days, you will receive a reminder email to your registered email address.

Message Who will see the online message
BPS online application receipt Everyone with ‘BPS – Submit’ or ‘Business details – Full’ permission
Confirmation of entitlements and/or land transfer Transferor business – the person who transferred the entitlements or land to another business.

Transferee business – everyone with the following permission:

- Business details (Full and Make legal changes)
- Entitlements or Land details (Amend)
- Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) (Amend and Submit)
Permission change The person whose permission has been changed

Change your business details after you’ve registered

You can change or update the following details yourself online:

  • your contact details
  • simple business details (like your business name)
  • change the people who act on your behalf

Only you can amend your personal details. However, anyone with the correct permission can amend business details.

If the structure of your business is changing

If the structure of your business is changing, you can’t make these changes online. This includes:

  • a partner joining or leaving the business
  • splitting an existing business into 2 or more businesses
  • merging 2 or more businesses into 1

To make these changes, you need to call RPA on 03000 200 301 - they will explain what to do next.

They may ask you to fill in a ‘New Business Questionnaire IACS 27’ and send it to RPA. You might also need to fill out an IACS 26 form (see below).

If you are splitting a business into 2 or more businesses, fill in a ‘Separate Business Questionnaire’ and send it to RPA. You can also use this to tell RPA if you are involved in more than 1 business registered with the RPA.

If you’ve made structural changes to your business, or you’re involved in more than 1 business, RPA might have to change your SBI. They’ll take into account:

  • the business structure
  • if the business or any business members have an interest in any other farming business
  • who is farming the land and applying for payment
  • the percentage shareholding
  • who has ultimate responsibility for long-term and/or day to day decisions and transactions between the businesses

Examples of how RPA assesses business changes

If a registered customer dies

If a registered customer dies, their personal representative should call RPA on 03000 200 301, who will work closely with them to find out:

  • who should receive any rural payments due
  • who can make future applications for payments on behalf of the business
  • who will receive any Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements

RPA will ask to see a certified copy of the ‘death certificate’. They might also ask to see documents, including those shown in the table below:

Document Issued by What it’s for
‘Grant of probate’ or ‘Grant letters of administration’ Probate Registry Gives the person(s) named in the grant authority by the court to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate
Death certificate General Registrar’s Office Confirms the date of death
Form of indemnity RPA Indemnifies the RPA when paying claims in cases where the deceased’s estate was valued at less than £5000 and there is no grant
Collective agreement RPA Form of indemnity Allows RPA to make payments into bank account nominated by the personal representative

This could delay any rural payments that are due to the business. The personal representative(s) of the deceased is responsible for making sure that scheme rules are met for any rural grants schemes the business is involved in You can contact the RPA probate team in writing:

Rural Payments
PO Box 352
S80 9FG

Register land and making mapping changes (including RLE1)

The Rural Payments service includes digital maps of registered land parcels. You only need to register the land parcels on your holding (so that they appear on your digital maps) if they are not already mapped and you intend to claim payment for the following land-based rural payment schemes:

  • Basic Payment Scheme
  • Countryside Stewardship
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Habitat Scheme
  • English Woodland Grant Scheme
  • Farm Woodland Premium Scheme
  • National Forest Changing Landscape Scheme

To claim these rural payments, you must register:

  • all of the agricultural land parcels on your holding which are 0.0100 hectares or larger
  • all of their permanent boundaries
  • all permanent non-agricultural features or areas within them
  • all of the non-agricultural land parcels on your holding which you manage under a Rural Development Programme agreement or under the National Forest Changing Landscape Scheme

A land parcel of woodland/forestry should only be registered if it is in (or will be in) a Rural Development Programme scheme or the National Forest Changing Landscapes scheme.

What is agricultural land?

Agricultural land is:

  • arable land (including temporary grass and fallow land)
  • permanent grassland
  • permanent crops

All other land is ‘non-agricultural’. Read the list of land use codes for a full list of non-agricultural land.

To register a land parcel which hasn’t been mapped before, you need to use a paper RLE1 form (see below). Once RPA process it, your land parcels will then appear on your digital maps within the Rural Payments service.

You can remove land registered land parcels from your business online. You can also transfer land parcels to another business. To find out how, click the ‘Help’ button on the screen.

To make other changes, you need to fill in an RLE1 form.

When you apply for rural grants and payments, you will also need to give more information about what you use your registered land parcels for. Different schemes require different information so read the separate scheme guidance carefully.

Use an RLE1 form to register land and making mapping changes

To do the following, you have to fill in a paper Rural Land and Entitlements (RLE1) form and send it to RPA:

  • register and map a land parcel for the first time
  • split or merge land parcels
  • change the permanent boundaries of a land parcel
  • transfer part of a land parcel to another holding
  • register a permanent non-agricultural feature or area which is within a land parcel but isn’t showing on your digital maps

You must send annotated paper maps with your RLE1 form - clearly draw on the maps to show the changes you want to make. Use the best paper maps you have (you can print digital maps of land parcels from the Rural Payments service)

When RPA gets your RLE1 form asking for mapping changes, your change will show as pending on your digital maps and you will see an ‘!’ icon.

For more information, read the RLE1 guidance.

RPA will continuously use all available data sources, including aerial photography and Ordnance Survey map updates, to keep land information up-to-date, and to check any claims you make.

These changes will happen automatically - RPA will not write to you to tell you when they make a change to your maps based on these data sources.

Apply for rural grants and payments

You can use the Rural Payments service to apply for the Basic Payment Scheme.

From early March 2017, you will be able to use the Rural Payments service to apply for the following Countryside Stewardship (CS) grants:

  • Hedgerows and Boundaries Grant
  • Woodland Management Plan Grant

Revenue and capital payments online Countryside Stewardship claims will be available later in spring 2017

For more information about any of these schemes read the specific scheme guidance – including what the scheme rules are and how to apply.

If you have not applied for either of these schemes before, an online application will need to be created for you - ring the Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301.