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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

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 either:

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

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

This guidance refers only to the arrangements 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 offset 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

The arrangements apply to the following countries.

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


Debts covered

The regulations cover all social security contributions and benefit debts, including those managed by other Government departments; for instance sickness benefit, pensions and so on.

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.

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 by, for example, seizing assets or freezing bank accounts.

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.