Guidance

Register a trust as an agent

Register your client’s trust online if you’re a tax agent or adviser.

Who should register

You must register a trust with HMRC:

  • if the trust becomes or is liable for any of the following taxes:

    • Capital Gains Tax
    • Income Tax
    • Inheritance Tax
    • Stamp Duty Land Tax
    • Stamp Duty Reserve Tax
    • Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (in Scotland)
  • if the trustees need to get a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) – for example, for filling in a Self Assessment tax return for the trust
  • to make sure the trust complies with anti-money laundering regulations

If the trust is not resident in the UK (‘non-UK resident trusts’), you must register the trust if it becomes liable for tax on income coming from the UK or on UK assets.

If the trust has a tax liability but this is covered by a relief, you’ll need to register the trust if your client needs to claim the relief through Self Assessment.

There is a different way to register if you’re:

Who should not register

You do not need to register your client’s trust if:

  • the trust has to pay Income Tax of less than £100 and this only came from interest
  • the trust is a bare trust
  • only the settlor or beneficiary of the trust has to pay tax
  • the trust is a charitable trust and the trustees do not have to pay any tax on its income or assets
  • the assets in the trust go back to the settlor (a ‘resulting’ trust), for example, when the trust ends and all the beneficiaries have died
  • the trust has been created by legislation (a ‘statutory’ trust), for example, when a person dies without making a valid will and the estate passes to their relatives under the intestacy rules
  • the trust has been imposed by a court (a ‘constructive’ trust), for example, when someone has acted improperly or to hold compensation for a child aged under 18

If you have to report a trust for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) or Common Reporting Standard (CRS) purposes, you do not need a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and you do not need to register the trust for that reason.

You do not need to register a pension scheme that’s held in a trust if it’s already registered with HMRC.

When to register

The registration deadline depends on:

  • the tax the trust is liable for
  • whether it has been liable for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax before

Trusts that are liable for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax for the first time

Register the trust by 5 October in the tax year after the one in which the trust starts to receive any income, or has capital gains, and becomes liable for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax.

For example, if the trust received some interest for the first time in May 2019 (the 2019 to 2020 tax year) and became liable to Income Tax on it, you will need to register the trust by 5 October 2020 (in the 2020 to 2021 tax year).

Trusts that have been liable for Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax before

Register the trust by 31 January in the tax year after the one in which the trust receives any income, or has capital gains, and is liable for tax.

Trusts that are liable for other taxes

Register the trust by 31 January in the tax year after the one in which the trust has any other tax liability, such as Inheritance Tax.

If the trust is liable for more than one tax and both deadlines could apply, you must register it by the earlier of the 2 deadlines.

The trustees may have to pay a penalty if you do not register the trust before the registration deadline.

What you’ll need

Trusts

You’ll need:

  • the name of the trust
  • the type of trust
  • details about how it was set up
  • the date the trust was created
  • the trust’s UTR, if it has one

You should be able to find these details in the trust deed and from any correspondence that the trust has had with HMRC.

Lead trustees

All trustees are equally legally responsible for the trust, but you must nominate one ‘lead’ trustee to be the main point of contact for HMRC. The lead trustee will receive the trust’s UTR and reminders to file a tax return. You’ll need to keep their contact information up to date.

You’ll need to provide their:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number and address (if they’re a UK citizen)
  • passport details and address (if they’re not a UK citizen)
  • telephone number

If the lead trustee is an organisation, you’ll need to provide their:

  • organisation name
  • organisation UTR
  • address
  • telephone number
  • email address

Deceased settlors

A settlor is an individual or an organisation who has put assets into a trust.

You must give their name, and if available their:

  • date of birth
  • date of death
  • National Insurance number (if they were a UK citizen)
  • address
  • passport details and address (if they were not a UK citizen)

Other individuals and organisations

For other individuals involved in the trust including more trustees, living settlors, protectors and beneficiaries you must provide their:

  • name
  • date of birth

You must also provide one of the following:

  • National Insurance number (if they’re a UK citizen)
  • address
  • passport details and address (if they’re not a UK citizen)

For all other organisations involved in the trust you’ll need to provide their:

  • organisation name
  • address

Beneficiaries

You must give the details of all known beneficiaries who can benefit from the trust. If the trust has more than 25 beneficiaries in any one beneficiary type, keep a note of additional beneficiaries for your own records.

Named beneficiaries

You must give details of all individuals, trusts, charities and organisations named as beneficiaries in the deed.

Some named beneficiaries will only benefit when a certain event happens, such as when another beneficiary dies. You can include these ‘potential beneficiaries’ in a class of beneficiaries until the event occurs. At that point, you should provide their details on the register as a named beneficiary.

Classes of beneficiaries

You can use a ‘class’ of beneficiaries to describe a group of individuals who are not yet known or named individually in the trust deed, for example, future grandchildren. This can also include named potential beneficiaries. When a member of a class of beneficiaries benefits from the trust, and so becomes known, you must give their details.

You’ll be asked to provide a description of each class.

Example

Bill sets up a trust for the benefit of his grandchildren, including any that are not yet born. The trust deed also says that his niece Mary may benefit at the trustees’ discretion, and that if Mary dies the trustees can make a payment to his nephew John.

You can include the grandchildren in a class of beneficiaries because they are not specifically named or their names are not known. You must give Mary’s details because she is named and can benefit from the trust. You can include John in a class of beneficiaries as he can only benefit when Mary dies.

Some years later, the trustees make a payment to one of the grandchildren, Sarah. Mary also dies, and the trustees make a payment to John. You must give Sarah’s details on the register as she has benefitted from the trust and her name is known. You must also give John’s details because he can now benefit too.

This is used to record beneficiaries who are part of an organisation, for example, employees of a company.

You’ll also need to provide an approximate number of beneficiaries in the group.

Assets

Shares

You’ll need the:

  • share company name
  • number of shares
  • class and type of share
  • approximate value of the shares when you register the trust

Property and land

You’ll need the:

  • address, name or description of the property or land
  • estimated full value of the property or land at the time of registering the trust
  • estimated value of the portion of land or property held in trust if it does not own it all

For money

You’ll need the total amount of money in the trust.

Other assets (such as cars, jewellery or art)

You’ll need:

  • a description of the asset
  • the value of the asset when you register the trust

How to register

When registering the trust you’ll need to:

Register now

HMRC services may be slow during busy times. Check if there are any problems with this service.

After you’ve registered

Registering your client’s trust does not give you authority to act on your client’s behalf.

We’ll send the lead trustee a UTR, usually within 15 working days. You’ll need the UTR to start filing Self Assessment tax returns. You can do this by either:

If the trust has any Inheritance Tax to pay, you must apply for a separate reference number by completing form IHT122. You must complete this 3 weeks before any payment is made.

If the trust is only liable to a tax that is not Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax, contact HMRC to:

  • stop any Self Assessment forms being issued
  • make sure you do not need to send a Self Assessment tax return if you have already received one

Tell HMRC about changes to registration details

Before you can view or change the details about the trust you gave at registration, you must have authorisation from your client.

This authorisation is only for updating the trust’s registration details. It does not replace either:

Once you are authorised, use the online service to tell HMRC if any of the information about the trust you gave at registration changes. This includes changes to settlors, trustees or beneficiaries.

Published 17 November 2017
Last updated 9 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Information about the number of beneficiaries in any one beneficiary type has been updated to 25.

  2. The instructions about how clients should set up agent authorisation have changed in the section 'Tell HMRC about changes to registration details'.

  3. Information about what you need to do to tell HMRC about changes to registration details has been updated.

  4. Tell HMRC about changes to registration details has been updated.

  5. The 'how to register' section has been updated.

  6. The guidance has been updated to make it clearer who should register, when to register, what you'll need to register and what happens after you register.

  7. This guidance has been updated to show the types of trust you must register, and the deadlines for registering.

  8. Information on how to tell HMRC about changes to lead trustee details has been added.

  9. The guidance has been updated to show that the lead trustees may have to pay a penalty, not their agents.

  10. The guidance has been updated to include information about penalties for not registering your client's trust, and for not telling HMRC about changes to your client's information.

  11. Added information about what to do if you need to record details of more than 2 settlors.

  12. The 'How to register' section has been updated to include more detail on creating an agent services account.

  13. Updated content to make clear what you need to register for an agent services account.

  14. The guidance has been updated to explain more about classes of beneficiaries and how to register a trust, and that you need an agent services account before being able to register.

  15. First published.