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Trust Registration Service

Requirements and exemptions for charitable trusts

Jon Daley, Director, Corporate Tax
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Under current UK anti-money laundering regulations, most UK trusts (including non-taxable trusts) as well as some non-UK trusts are required to register with the Trust Registration Service (TRS) by 1 September 2022. Fortunately for the charity sector, these regulations contain an exemption for most charitable trusts.


In April 2019 HM Treasury published a consultation document on the implementation of the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) which proposed that all express trusts (which includes all charitable trusts set up by will or by trust deed) should be required to register with the TRS.

A number of responses pointed out that this would require the registration of thousands of small, and possibly dormant, charitable trusts that are already registered with and regulated by the Charity Commission.

A further consultation followed in January 2020 proposing a number of exclusions from registration with the TRS, including for most types of charitable trust. These exclusions were implemented into the final regulations implementing the 5AMLD into national law, which came into force in October 2020.

Current position

A trust is required to register with the Trust Registration Service if it is either a registrable express trust or a registrable taxable trust.

The current regulations exclude from the definition of a registrable express trust all trusts that are set up for charitable purposes and that are either:

  • registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales (or with the appropriate regulators in Scotland or Northern Ireland)
  • exempt charities – these are charities which are registered with a different principal regulator (e.g. universities regulated by the Higher Education Funding Council for England)
  • excepted charities – these are charities with income less than £100,000 and belonging to certain categories (e.g. student unions, Scout and Guide groups, charitable service funds of the armed forces)
  • charities with income of less than £5,000 per year.

Additionally, ‘special trusts’ that hold funds on behalf of a charity for the purposes of that charity are not required to register with the TRS, provided that they are accounted for as part of the accounts of a charity that is either a registered charity or excluded from registration under section 30(2) of the Charities Act 2011.

For charitable trusts pending approval of their charity registration, HMRC have stated in their guidance that they will not require such trusts to register on the TRS so long as the trustees have a genuine expectation that the trust will be accepted for registration as a charity.

A charitable trust may also be required to register with the TRS if it is a registrable taxable trust. This is the case where the trust is liable to pay any of the following taxes in relation to its UK assets or UK-sourced income:

  • Income tax
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
  • Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT)
  • Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (in Scotland)
  • Land Transaction Tax (in Wales).

Most charitable trusts will not have any liability to any of the above taxes, due to the availability of charitable exemptions.

Any charitable trusts that are set up or become registrable after 1 September 2022 will be required to register within 90 days of becoming registrable. If you have any questions or concerns about whether your charity is required to register with the TRS please contact us.

Further information in relation to the TRS can be found in our insight Trust Registration Service.

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