Guidance

Apply to be an ISA manager

Who can be an ISA manager, how to apply and when to tell HMRC you'll stop being a manager.

Who can manage an ISA

Only persons (including companies) approved by HMRC can manage an Individual Savings Account (ISA).

To obtain approval to manage an ISA you must:

Eligibility to manage an ISA

The following are eligible to manage an ISA:

  • authorised person within the meaning of section 31(1)(a) or (c) of, or Schedule 5 to, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 who has permission to carry on one or more of the activities specified in Articles 14, 21, 25, 36H, 37, 39G, 40, 45, 51ZA, 51ZC, 51ZE and 53 and, insofar as it applies to any of those activities, Article 64 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001, (other than interim permission under Chapter 4 of Part 8 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2013) (with evidence demonstrating such permission)
  • European institution that carries on one or more of those activities
  • credit union that is an authorised person within the meaning of section 31(1)(a) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 who has permission to carry on one or more of the activities specified in Article 5 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001
  • the Director of Savings
  • building society
  • person falling within section 991(2)(b) or (c) of Income Tax Act 2007 - bank
  • insurance company within the meaning given by section 431(2) Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 -with evidence of either a notice of authorisation from the Treasury Insurance Directorate or the Friendly Societies Commission (UK insurers) - or a copy of HMRC authorisation under Article 6 of the First Long Term Insurance Directive (foreign insurers)
  • incorporated friendly society
  • registered friendly society
  • an assurance undertaking that is not an insurance company within the meaning given by section 431(2) Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988, an incorporated friendly society, or a registered friendly society

Definition of terms

Term Definition
European institution a European Economic Area (EEA) firm of the kind mentioned in paragraph 5(a) to (d) (f) and (h) of Schedule 3 to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 which is an authorised person for the purposes of that Act as a result of qualifying for authorisation under paragraph 12(1) to (4), (6) and (7) of that Schedule
Credit union a society registered as a credit union under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 or the Credit Unions (Northern Ireland) Order 1985
The Director of Savings has the same meaning as in the National Debt Act 1972
Building society a building society within the meaning of the Building Societies Act 1986, or the Irish Building Societies Act 1989
Insurance company within the meaning given by section 431(2) Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988 includes
an insurance company that is authorised by the Treasury insurance Directorate to carry out insurance business within the UK
an insurance company that is incorporated in, or formed under the law of, an EEA member state other than the UK, whose head office is in a member state, which is authorised in accordance with Article 6 of the First Long Term Insurance Directive, and is carrying on an insurance business in the UK through a branch or agency in the UK
Incorporated friendly society a society incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992
Registered friendly society a society within the meaning of the Friendly Societies Act 1992 - it includes a society treated as a registered friendly society by virtue of section 96(2) of that Act
assurance undertaking an assurance undertaking within the meaning of Article 2 of the Council Directive of 5 Nov 2002 concerning life assurance (No. 2002/83)

Exclusions

Managers must not be prevented from acting as such by any

  • requirement imposed under section 43 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
  • prohibition imposed by, or under any rules made by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under that Act

It is not possible for individuals to manage their own ISA, even if they would otherwise be eligible as an ISA manager.

Tax representatives

A manager who is approved as:

  • a European institution or a relevant authorised person and who does not have a branch or business establishment in the UK
  • a European institution or a relevant authorised person and who does have a branch or business establishment in the UK, but does not intend to carry out all his functions as a manager at that branch or business establishment
  • an assurance undertaking

must do one of:

  • appoint a tax representative
  • make arrangements with HMRC for some other person to ensure that the duties as a manager are met
  • make other arrangements with HMRC to ensure that the duties as a manager are met

A tax representative must be all of the following:

  • an individual who is resident in the UK or a company that has a business establishment in the UK
  • entitled to act on behalf of the manager in relation to the duties prescribed under the regulations
  • responsible for ensuring that the manager meets the duties prescribed under the regulations
  • personally liable where the manager fails to meet the prescribed duties, as if the duties imposed on the manager were jointly and severally imposed on them and the manager

The appointment of a tax representative is treated as terminated where HMRC has reason to believe that the tax representative:

  • has failed to ensure that the manager met his prescribed duties
  • does not have adequate resources to ensure that the duties are met

HMRC will notify the manager of the termination, specifying the date on which the termination is effective.

Applications for approval as an ISA manager

Those eligible and who wish to be an ISA manager must apply to HMRC for approval. Use this form to apply for approval as an ISA manager and so offer cash, stocks and shares, innovative finance or Junior ISAs.

Note that the approval process to be a Lifetime ISA manager is different and applicants must follow the instructions set out in Lifetime ISA guidance.

The applicant must provide all the following:

  • full registered name or legal title
  • full address, including postcode, to which all communications should be sent
  • nature of the business
  • capacity in which eligibility to manage an ISA is claimed
  • tax district and reference number to which they submit tax returns or accounts
  • name telephone number and email address of one or more individuals appointed to act as liaison officers, to provide day-to-day contact with HMRC
  • full name of one or more individuals appointed to act as an Authorised Signatory or Signatories with the authority to sign formal documentation
  • details of the form in which returns of information will be submitted
  • details of the types of ISA to be offered
  • bank account details
  • FCA number
  • confirmation that the FCA have granted the necessary authorisations

UK insurers should send a copy of their notice of authorisation from the Treasury Insurance Directorate or the Friendly Societies Commission. Foreign insurers should send a copy of their authorisation under Article 6 of the First Long Term Insurance Directive.

HMRC will normally respond to any application for approval within 14 calendar days, will issue a decision and if successful, allocate a reference number for use in all future communications and include the new ISA manager in the next edition of the list of approved ISA managers.

The terms of approval may include conditions designed to ensure that the provisions of the ISA regulations are satisfied. Approval is valid from the date of the notice issued by HMRC. Where HMRC decide not to approve a person they will explain why in writing.

Managers must provide the information before their first claim to HMRC. Guidance on this is available at information to be supplied before claims are made.

List of approved ISA managers

There is an Individual Savings Account (ISA): list of authorised managers that is updated monthly.

The components offered by authorised ISA managers are identified on the list using the following abbreviations

Abbreviation Component
C cash ISA
SS stocks and shares ISA
IF innovative finance ISA
C JISA cash junior ISA
SS JISA stocks and shares junior ISA
L lifetime ISA

Subsequent changes to information provided in the application

Where any of the information provided on the application changes:

managers should inform HMRC as soon as possible using the change of information form.

If the manager is incorporated, and changes their name, then a copy of the certificate of incorporation on change of name should attached to the change of details form and sent to HMRC.

Where the ISA manager also offers lifetime ISAs, they must ensure that in notifying HMRC of the changes they make clear they also offer lifetime ISAs to ensure changes are captured to the lifetime ISA Application Programming Interface (API).

HMRC must also be informed of any change of liaison officer, either by the retiring liaison officer, or by an authorised signatory.

If you have any queries on the operation of this process you should contact savings.audit@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk providing the details.

An ISA manager approved for one type of ISA must first seek, in writing, authorisation from HMRC, in writing, before they can manage another type of ISA.

Worked example of approval for a different type of ISA (PDF, 83.3KB, 1 page)

Lifetime ISA manager authorisation

Until such time as notified by HMRC, the authorisation process described below will be only available via registration for Private Beta described in ISA Manager Bulletin 74.

To be authorised to offer the lifetime ISA, those already authorised as an ISA manager must take the following steps.

If, as an ISA Manager, you do not already have an organisational Government Gateway user ID and password you can create one when you register.

ISA managers must seek authorisation to offer lifetime ISAs using the lifetime ISA online service. Details including, but not limited to the following, will be required:

  • name of the person making the application and position
  • business name
  • ISA manager Corporation Tax Unique Taxpayer Reference
  • ISA manager Z reference
  • FCA number
  • address, including postcode
  • email address
  • telephone number

Once successfully submitted you will receive a message advising that the application is being considered. As part of the process an HMRC officer may contact the named person on the FCA website to confirm that the application has been received and is being processed.

Where authorisation is not granted confirmation will be issued to the ISA Manager.

Where authorisation is granted, an email confirmation will be issued with further instructions in order to complete the process. Further instructions will then be provided in order to obtain an OAuth token. Token activation will enable the lifetime ISA manager to connect to the lifetime ISA API.

The token needs to be updated every 18 months.

Note that a process for those who wish to offer the lifetime ISA but are not already an authorised ISA manager will be notified during 2017 to 2018. In the interim a prospective lifetime ISA manager, who is not already authorised as an ISA manager, should email savings.audit@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk to receive advice on how to proceed.

Ceasing to be a manager

A person will cease as a manager when:

Withdrawal of approval by HMRC

HMRC may withdraw approval from an ISA manager if they have reason to believe that they are:

  • failing, or have failed to manage ISAs in accordance with the regulations
  • not qualified to act as an ISA manager

HMRC will issue a notice of withdrawal of approval, which will specify the:

  • type of ISA
  • date from which the approval is withdrawn
  • reason for the withdrawal

The notice will explain how to make an appeal against the withdrawal. Managers may appeal within 30 calendar days of the date the notice is issued.

Voluntary cessation

A manager who intends to stop managing ISAs must give notice of their intention to HMRC and to each investor not less than 30 calendar days before the intended date of cessation. The notice to investors must inform them of their right to transfer their ISAs to another manager.

Involuntary cessation

A person ceases to qualify as an ISA manager when they are no longer eligible - for:

  • individuals, they become the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or an interim order
  • individuals in Scotland, their estate is sequestrated or they make an arrangement or composition with their creditors
  • companies, a resolution has been passed or a petition has been presented to wind it up
  • European institutions, relevant authorised persons or assurance undertaking, action corresponding to that in the next bullet point has been taken by or in relation to the institution, person or undertaking under the law of an EEA State
  • building society, or person falling within section 991 Income Tax Act 2007
    • ceases to be a building society or to be a person falling within section 991 Income Tax Act 2007, as the case may be
    • the directors have made a proposal under Part 1 of the Insolvency Act 1986 for a composition in satisfaction of it’s debts or a scheme of arrangement of its affairs
    • an Administration Order is made in relation to it
    • a receiver or manager of its property has been appointed

A manager who has ceased to qualify must inform HMRC and each investor within 30 calendar days of the date he ceased to qualify. The notice to investors must inform them of their right to transfer their ISAs to another manager.

Returns required on cessation as a manager

A manager who has ceased to manage ISAs must submit:

for the period from the previous reporting date to the date of cessation.

In the case of involuntary cessation or withdrawal of approval the person appointed to terminate the scheme should perform these duties.

Published 5 April 2018