Check a pension scheme member's residency status for relief at source

Find the residency status of your members to give them the right tax relief using relief at source.

As a pension scheme administrator using relief at source, you’ll need to know the residency status of each of your scheme members. You can then give them the right tax relief and reclaim it from HMRC.

You must use the residency status information provided by HMRC. You can find this in your annual notification of residency status report for existing members. It can take up to 2 tax years for a new member to be included on your annual report.

The annual report uses the information you supplied on your annual return of individual information. If you did not submit the return for the previous tax year, you will not have received an annual report to use for the following tax year.

You should use the look up residency status for relief at source service if your member does not appear on your annual notification of residency status report.

Use the rest of UK residency status if you cannot check a member’s status before you apply relief at source for them, or they do not appear on either the annual report or the look up service.

You must apply the same tax rate for a member for the whole of the tax year, even if their residency status changes.

If your member has had the wrong amount of tax relief, HMRC will deal directly with them to correct it.

Find the residency status of existing members

You should use your annual notification of residency status report, which HMRC will make available in January each year. If you’re not already enrolled for it, you’ll need to register for the Secure Data Exchange Service (SDES) to get this.

HMRC will send you an email each year when your annual notification of residency status report is available in SDES for you to download. When you access SDES, make sure the email address for this notification is correct.

If you successfully submitted more than one annual return of individual information, you’ll receive a report for each annual return you submitted.

You need to sign in to SDES and download the report within 144 hours (6 days) from when HMRC make the file available to you to download.

What your annual report will tell you

The report will give you a residency status for each of your scheme members which you included in your annual return. The ‘Residency tax status’ column will show:

  • ‘S’ - Scottish residency status
  • a blank field - rest of UK residency status (resident in England, Northern Ireland or Wales)
  • ‘U’ - the member has not been matched to a National Insurance number

The report may provide a different National Insurance number for a given member in an extra field. If so, you must use this to update your records.

You need to tell HMRC by emailing if you:

  • cannot open your report because the file is corrupt
  • have not received your report
  • did not download the report in time

In your email you must include your scheme administration reference number which HMRC allocated to you for monthly and annual tax relief at source repayments. It’s a letter followed by 4 numbers, a ‘/’ and another 2 numbers. However, you must replace the letter for a ‘P’, so A0000/01 would become P0000/01.

Find a new member’s residency status using the look up service

You’ll need to know the scheme member’s:

  • first and last name
  • National Insurance number
  • date of birth

If a member changes their address details with HMRC, there can be a delay before the service shows the updated residency status.

To look up residency status online, you need a Government Gateway user ID and password. If you do not have a user ID, you can create one the first time you use the online service.

You’ll also need a pension scheme administrator or practitioner ID to sign into the service.

You can:

Look up service search results

Every residency status search will have one of the following results:

If a residency status is given, once you use it to claim relief at source for a member, you must use this for the whole of the tax year. You must not change a member’s residency status for the current tax year after having made a claim for relief at source, even if a later search returns a different residency status. HMRC recommends that you keep a copy of the results page.

If you use the look up service between mid-January and 5 April each year we’ll also give you the residency status of your member for the next tax year. You’ll be able to use this to give the correct rate of relief at source for the next tax year to members who are not on your annual report.

Members without a residency status result

Where a member does not have a residency status of Scotland or ‘rest of UK’ in the annual report or look up service, you’ll need to check you’ve got the correct details.

A residency status also will not be shown for members who have died. If this has resulted in you giving too much relief at source to the member, you’ll need to tell HMRC how much.

If you think all the information you have is correct, your scheme member will need to contact National Insurance general enquiries to check their details.

If you do not have a residency status for a member by the time you claim relief at source on their first contribution, you must treat them as having a ‘rest of UK’ status.

Members not covered

If your member:

  • is under 16 years old, treat the residency status as England, Northern Ireland or Wales
  • does not have a National Insurance number and is over 16 years old, you’ll need to ask the member to contact National Insurance general enquiries

For these scheme members you’ll need to use the rest of UK residency status for relief at source purposes.

Published 31 January 2018
Last updated 29 May 2018 + show all updates
  1. Information on how to use the look up residency status for relief at source service has been added.
  2. First published.