Information for competent authorities in EU Member States (excluding Denmark and Ireland) and in the UK about obtaining evidence within the UK or abroad to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings.
The EIO replaces existing measures for requesting and sharing evidence for criminal investigations through Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) between Member States (see MLA page).
It streamlines the process, by introducing:
- (a) mutual recognition of other member states’ judicial decisions
- (b) standardised forms for making requests
- (c) specified time limits for responding.
The EIO requires Member States to recognise a request within 30 days and execute the request within 90 days (although extensions can be sought).
Sending EIOs to the UK
In accordance with Article 7(3) of the Directive 2014/41/EU European Investigation Order in Criminal Matters the UK has designated three central authorities with the function of administrative transmission and receipt of EIOs, as well as other official correspondence relating to EIOs.
Where to send your requests
EIOs in England and Wales and Northern Ireland
The Home Office deals with EIOs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (except tax and fiscal customs matters, see below):
UK Central Authority
International Criminality Unit
2nd Floor, Peel Building
2 Marsham Street
Tel: +44 (0)207 035 4040
Fax: +44 (0)207 035 6986
EIOs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland relating to tax and fiscal customs matters
EIOs of a tax and fiscal customs nature should be sent to HM Revenue and Customs:
Criminal Law and Benefits and Credits Advisory Team HM Revenue and Customs - Solicitor’s Office
1st Floor (South)
Bush House S/W Wing
Tel: +44 (0)3000 586 324
All EIOs relating to Scotland
EIOs seeking assistance solely from Scotland should be sent directly to the Crown Office in Edinburgh:
International Co-operation Unit
25 Chambers Street
Tel: +44 (0)131 243 8152
Fax: +44 (0)131 243 8153
Sending EIOs from the UK
EIOs from the UK for evidence must be issued by a court or a designated prosecuting authority. A court may issue an EIO on behalf of the defence once proceedings have been instituted.
For the EIO the courts and designated prosecuting authorities in the UK are the:
- Magistrates’ courts, the Crown Court and the High Court
- The Bank of England
- The Director of Public Prosecutions and any Crown Prosecutor
- The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and any Public Prosecutor
- The Director of the Serious Fraud Office and any person designated under section 1(7) of the Criminal Justice Act 1987
- The Environment Agency
- The Financial Conduct Authority
- The Prudential Regulation Authority
- The Attorney General for England and Wales
- The Attorney General for Northern Ireland
- The Northern Ireland Department for Communities
- The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
- The Secretary of State for Health
- The Secretary of State for Transport
- The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
The designated authorities listed above are able to send EIOs directly from the UK to the competent authority in a Member States, without the request going through a central authority in the UK.
Case-handling arrangements in the UK Central Authority
If accepted, a new EIO will be allocated to a caseworker who will write to the issuing authority to acknowledge receipt and introduce themselves as the point of contact on the case, recognising the EIO where appropriate within 30 days.
The caseworker will provide the UK Central Authority reference number. This is specific to the individual case and should be quoted in all correspondence. Please direct all queries to the allocated caseworker in the first instance.
If the UK Central Authority reference number is not known, please ensure sufficient details are provided to enable identification of the EIO. Please include the name of the subject of the request, the issuing authority’s reference number and where applicable the operation name. Please note that in the absence of a secure email link, the UK Central Authority is unable to discuss the details of an EIO by email.
Returns and referrals
If the UK Central Authority considers that an EIO qualifies for any of the grounds for non-recognition or non-execution listed under Article 11(1) points (a), (b), (d), (e) and (f), they will consult the issuing authority, and where appropriate, ask the issuing authority to supply any necessary information. EIOs for offences which do not constitute an offence under the law of the executing State (unless it concerns an offence listed within the categories of offences set out in the EIO form) will be returned to issuing authority.
Where appropriate, EIOs which should have been directed to HM Revenue and Customs or Crown Office and not the UK Central Authority will be forwarded to them on behalf of the issuing authority.
Please note that failure to provide the fullest information possible in an EIO may result in delays or in a request not being executed either in part or in full.
Gibraltar is the only British Overseas Territories which operates the EIO, but the EIO does not apply between Gibraltar and the UK. EIOs for Gibraltar should be sent to:
The United Kingdom Government Gibraltar Liaison Unit for EU Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
Tel.: +44 20 7008 1577
Fax: +44 20 7008 3629
Please note the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories each have their own legal systems, independent of the UK (and are not party to the EIO).
- The Criminal Justice (European Investigation Order) Regulations 2017 – the UK’s domestic legislation
- European Investigation Order (EIO Directive)
- Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (CICA) – the UK’s main domestic legislation for MLA
- transposing the European Investigation Directive (2014/41/EU)
- Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (External Requests and Orders) Order 2005
- Criminal Justice and Data Protection (Protocol No. 36) Regulations 2014
- MLA Guidelines for Foreign Authorities – guidance produced by UKCA for overseas authorities wishing to make a MLA request to the UK.
- A list of the UK’s MLA agreements
- The European Judicial Network (EJN) – a network of MLA practitioners from EU Member States
- Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions on Co-Operation in Criminal Matters (PC-OC) – a Council of Europe committee of experts in international co-operation in criminal matters
- ACRO Criminal Records Office
- Mutual legal assistance requests