European Union: UK Trusts' Disclosure For Non-UK Trustees

Last Updated: 5 December 2017
Article by Ian Devereux

Those who have invested in UK property, shares or other assets using a trust need to take note of the new trust registration requirements in the UK. 

Under these new rules, a trustee of a trust that receives UK source income or has assets in the UK, in respect of which the trust is liable for certain UK taxes, is required to register the trust with the UK's HM Revenue and Customs ("HMRC") under the recently established Trusts Registration Service ("Trusts Register"). This registration requirement is wide-ranging and is not limited to UK resident trusts; it may include trusts where the trustees, beneficiaries and the protector are all located outside the UK.

Which trusts need to register?

The Trusts Register applies to the following express trusts:

  1. Trusts where all the trustees are resident in the UK.
  2. Trusts where at least one trustee is UK resident, and the settlor was resident and domiciled in the UK when the trust was set up or when the settlor added funds to the trust.
  3. Trusts not falling within a) or b) which receive income from a source in the UK or has assets in the UK on which it is liable to pay any of the following UK taxes: income tax, capital gains tax (including non-resident capital gains tax), inheritance tax, stamp duty land tax ("SDLT") and the Scottish equivalent, the land and buildings transaction tax and stamp duty reserve tax.

Accordingly, trusts with non-UK resident trustees are only required to register when they become liable to the specific UK taxes noted above. In particular trusts acquiring or holding UK real estate should be aware that the need to register can be triggered simply by purchasing land and incurring SDLT. Trustees should also be aware that the extended  scope of UK inheritance tax (with effect from 6 April 2017), such that UK residential property indirectly held through non-UK companies may be subject to UK inheritance tax, is also likely to trigger a registration requirement in the tax year in which an inheritance tax liability is incurred.

Non-UK resident trusts do not have to register if the trustees are not themselves directly liable to UK tax – eg if the liability is on a company held by the trustees or if the tax liability is of the settlor or the beneficiaries.

When do non-UK resident trusts need to register?

For most existing trusts with ongoing UK tax liabilities, the deadline to first register is 31 January 2018.

For trusts that became liable to UK income tax or capital gains tax for the first time during the 2016/17 UK income tax year (6 April 2016 to 5 April 2017), and have not previously registered with HMRC (using Form 41G), the trust had until 5 October 2017 to register. However HMRC has stated that no penalties will be imposed if the trust is registered by 5 January 2018 as a transitional measure on the introduction of the Trusts Register.

Non-UK trustees of trusts that first become liable to income tax or capital gains tax in subsequent years (ie 2017/18 onwards) will need to register by 5 October following the end of that tax year.

Note that if trusts are only liable to UK taxes other than income tax or capital gains tax (eg inheritance tax or stamp duty land tax), trustees have until 31 January following the end of the tax year in which the liability is triggered (not the filing deadline) to register.

Broader context for the Trusts Register

The Trusts Register was established under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 ("Regulations") which took effect on 26 June 2017. The Regulations are the UK's implementation of the EU's 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive ("4AMLD"). Similar registries of beneficial ownership are due to be introduced in the other EU member states.

The Trusts Register requires detailed information on the trustees, settlors, beneficiaries and protectors of a trust (eg address, passport details) so this may raise privacy issues for those who may have been accustomed to anonymity from regulators. More importantly, this disclosure of information by trustees is likely to conflict with the trustees' duty of confidentiality under the law of the trust. The Regulations exclude the provision of this information as a breach of restrictions on disclosure of information, but this may not protect trustees outside the UK. Advice should be sought on the trustee's obligations in its home jurisdiction.

Note that if potential beneficiaries can be identified in the trust deed, they may need to be disclosed as well even though no distribution is actually made to that beneficiary. Potential beneficiaries is taken by HMRC to include beneficiaries who are included in a letter of wishes or other written document from the settlor, even where this may not be entirely consistent with the express terms of the trust.

This information will be made available to HMRC, other UK law enforcement authorities and authorities in EEA states that are responsible for anti-money laundering and financial intelligence functions. The 4AMLD also requires this information to be available to "obliged entities" such as financial institutions but this aspect has not been transposed into UK's implementation of the 4AMLD. While the public is not currently able to access the Trusts Register, a proposal has been circulated by the European Commission to extend access to the Trusts Register to any person with a "legitimate interest", which may appear in a future EU AMLD.

In addition, non-UK trustees with UK assets or UK source income are required to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of the beneficial owners of the trust, irrespective of whether they have incurred a UK tax liability in a given tax year. These records must be provided on request to certain UK law enforcement authorities and any party applying customer due diligence measures pursuant to the Regulations.

The potential penalties for non-compliance with these registration obligations include civil as well as criminal penalties and sanctions. Trustees must ensure that they take all reasonable steps and exercise all due diligence in complying with their obligations in order to avoid such penalties. HMRC's guidance provides that if a trustee does not have all of the data available after making all reasonable efforts and steps, the trustees should still register the trust using the available data.

What details are required?

The details required under the Trusts Register are extensive and include the following:

  • Personal details for the trustees, settlors, beneficiaries, certain potential beneficiaries and protectors (if any), including date of birth, address and UK national insurance number/UK unique taxpayer reference (if a person does not have these numbers, passport/ID card details will be required instead)
  • Description of any unidentified beneficiaries under the trust deed (eg a class)
  • Disclosing the governing law of the trust, place of administration and where the trust is resident
  • Statement of accounts showing the assets and their estimated market values (as at the date of registration) – if the assets include real property, the Trusts Register requires disclosure of the property address
  • Details of the agent acting on behalf of the trustee in relation to the registration on the Trusts Register (if any)

There is also a requirement for trustees to review this information and update HMRC on an annual basis provided that the trustees remain liable for UK taxes, although this will not apply to changes in assets and their values.

If trustees are not liable for UK taxes in a particular year, they will not have to update the register. However, any historical information previously provided will remain on the register and will not be removed. A trust will only be removed from the Trust Register when HMRC is notified that it no longer exists.

Next steps for trustees required to register

Trustees of trusts which have some UK nexus (whether assets, source of income or residency of trustees) should consider whether they need to register their trust with the Trusts Register as soon as possible.

If there is an obligation to register, trustees should then start obtaining the information required. Given the volume of information required, trustees may need to consult with beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries as to how this disclosure is to be made, and additional information may be required from them. Trustees would also need to review their trusts to establish in respect of who they need to disclose (eg who are the potential beneficiaries) and what information they require (eg does the settlor have a UK national insurance number).

The deadline to register for some trusts has already passed on 5 October 2017 although penalties are not currently imposed by HMRC if the trust registers by 5 January 2018. Most trusts are not subject to this deadline but would need to register by 31 January 2018 in any case, if they meet the criteria for registration.

Practically, the Trusts Register has been introduced as an online-only form meaning that trustees must have a UK "Government Gateway" account before they can complete the form. The form can only be progressively filled in so it is not possible for trustees to ascertain all the information required at the start. The form will expire if information is not provided within a set period of time and trustees will have to start the process again if this occurs. Given the restrictions in the online form, HMRC has contemplated that some trustees will need to provide information to HMRC outside the online form in order to ensure that they have complied with the registration requirements.

Please contact your usual Stephenson Harwood contact if you have any queries. They will be able to liaise with our London team who is experienced in the application process.

And finally

In addition to the Trusts Register, trustees should be aware of the forthcoming deadline of 3 January 2018 for them to obtain a Legal Entity Identifier ("LEI") if they wish to trade in UK financial markets. The LEI is a unique 20 character code that is assigned to entities on a global basis. The LEI can be obtained from various authorised organisations, and charges apply to the initial allocation of the LEI and annual maintenance thereafter. Similar measures are being implemented across European markets. Trusts that wish to trade securities should take steps to obtain a LEI well in advance of when they wish to trade.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Goodman Derrick LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Goodman Derrick LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions