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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Debt and return pursuit: Foreign cases: Mutual Assistance in the Recovery of Debt (MARD) (Social Security Debts): about the agreement

What is MARD?

MARD (Mutual Assistance in the Recovery of Debt) is an arrangement which allows a relevant authority in another country to ask HMRC for assistance in

  • obtaining information
  • serving legal documents or
  • recovering a Social Security debt

where the defaulting customer is living or has assets in the UK. There are a number of different MARD arrangements in place, but all are reciprocal.

This guidance covers the MARD arrangement for Social Security Debts managed by HMRC. For information about the MARD arrangements for tax debts, see DMBM560010 for EU countries or DMBM560200 for non EU countries.

The law and regulations

There are two EU Regulations that are applicable to Social Security Debts:

  • EU Council Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 (as amended) is the main Regulation
  • EU Council Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 is the implementing Regulation.

However, only a small part of each regulation applies to the recovery of Social Security Debts. The rest cover rules for establishing liability to national insurance contributions or entitlement to benefits, and requests to off set credits due in one country against debts due to another.

There is also UK legislation which enables us to charge and recover UK interest on a foreign insurance contribution debt on the same basis as we would a UK NICs debt:

  • SI 2010/926 - The Recovery of Social Security Contributions Due In Other Member States Regulations 2010.

Both EU Regulations apply directly in the UK and so no other UK legislation is required to implement the rules here.

Countries covered

Currently the Regulations only apply to all the EU Member States:

Austria Germany Portugal  
Belgium Greece Republic of Ireland  
Bulgaria Hungary Romania  
Croatia Italy Slovakia  
Cyprus Latvia Slovenia  
Czech Republic Lithuania Spain  
Denmark Luxembourg Sweden  
Estonia Malta United Kingdom  
Finland Netherlands    
France Poland    

In addition, they apply to Switzerland with effect from 1 April 2012 and to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway with effect from 1 June 2012.

Debts covered

The Regulations cover all social security contributions and benefit debts, including those managed by other Government departments, for instance sickness benefit, pensions etc.

However, for HMRC purposes it is the other countries equivalent of our:

  • Child Benefit overpayments
  • Guardians Allowance overpayments
  • Child Tax Credit overpayments
  • National Insurance Contribution debts (including deferred NICs)

Types of requests

There are four different types of requests:

Requests for Action required
Information Checking addresses, details of employment or benefits received, assets of the debtor, or establishing if further action is cost effective.
Notification Arranging for the service of legal documents.
Recovery Pursuing payment from the debtor, using normal UK recovery procedures.
Precautionary measures Protecting a claim; for example, seizing assets or freezing bank accounts. However, we do not take precautionary measures in the UK nor do we ask another country to take precautionary measures on our behalf.

Data protection

Personal data sent to you by another country under these provisions is subject to the data protection legislation of that country. In practice, this may be difficult to determine. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  

Personal data we send to another country under these provisions is subject to our data protection legislation.