What is the Trust Registration Service (TRS)?
The Trust Registration Service (TRS) is an online service where trustees of most types of trusts must register information about the trust with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). It is a legal requirement that the register is kept up to date with key information about the trust, such as details of the trustees and beneficiaries of the trust. Once added to the TRS, each trust will be issued with a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR), if the trust has any tax liabilities, or with a Unique Reference Number if the trust does not have any tax reporting requirements.
The TRS was created to implement anti-money laundering legislation, under which there must be a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts (this can be accessed only by persons with a legitimate interest, in the case of trusts). The scope of the TRS was widened in 2022, with the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD).
What is the current scope of the TRS?
Before 5AMLD came into force, the only trusts which needed to be added to the TRS were ones which had a liability to tax (Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Inheritance Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax, Stamp Duty Reserve Tax, Land Transaction Tax (Wales) and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scotland)). 5AMLD extended the scope of the register to all UK and some non-UK trusts (bar a few small exemptions), regardless of their liability to pay tax.
Which types of trusts need to be registered?
The types of trusts that need to be registered are:
- All UK express trusts (such as trusts in wills of deceased people or trust deeds), unless they fall into an exemption outlined below. This includes co-owned properties where the people entitled to the proceeds of sale are not the same as the names on the Land Registry title register.
- Any non-UK express trusts which hold or acquire land in the UK or have a trustee resident in the UK and enter a “business relationship” within the UK or become liable for UK tax.
- Any trust which requires a UTR even if it is on the list of exemptions. Estates of deceased people where a formal income tax return is required during the period of administration will fall into this category as the executors are holding the estate assets on trust for the beneficiaries of the estate.
Which types of trusts are exempt from registration?
The following trusts do not need to be registered unless they require a UTR and have a UK tax liability:
- Trusts holding assets of a UK registered pension scheme.
- Trusts holding funds from life or retirement policies that only pay out on death, serious illness or to cover medical expenses.
- Trusts holding funds from an insurance policy received after the death of the insured person and paid out of the trust within two years of the death.
- Charitable trusts for UK registered charities or which are not required to register as a charity.
- Pilot trusts set up before 6 October 2020 which hold no more than £100.
- Co-ownership trusts where the property is held by the people named on the Land Registry title as tenants in common for themselves.
- Will trusts which come into effect on death where they only hold estate assets for up to two years from the death.
- Trusts for bereaved minors or 18-25 trusts set up by will, intestacy or the criminal justice compensation scheme.
- Financial or commercial trusts created in the course of business for holding client money or assets.
- Bank accounts for minors or persons lacking mental capacity, and disabled beneficiary trusts (within section 89 Inheritance Tax Act 1984).