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4 August 2022 | Comment | Article by Eleanor Evans TEP

Trust Registration Service

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Trusts holding assets of a UK registered pension scheme.
  2. Trusts holding funds from life or retirement policies that only pay out on death, serious illness or to cover medical expenses.
  3. 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.
  4. Charitable trusts for UK registered charities or which are not required to register as a charity.
  5. Pilot trusts set up before 6 October 2020 which hold no more than £100.
  6. Co-ownership trusts where the property is held by the people named on the Land Registry title as tenants in common for themselves.
  7. Will trusts which come into effect on death where they only hold estate assets for up to two years from the death.
  8. Trusts for bereaved minors or 18-25 trusts set up by will, intestacy or the criminal justice compensation scheme.
  9. Financial or commercial trusts created in the course of business for holding client money or assets.
  10. Bank accounts for minors or persons lacking mental capacity, and disabled beneficiary trusts (within section 89 Inheritance Tax Act 1984).

If you would like advice regarding the TRS, or any other aspect of trust administration, from our team of specialist solicitors, please contact us on 029 2267 6010 or by email to [email protected].

When do trusts need to be registered?

Trusts need to have been registered on the TRS before 1 September 2022 or within 90 days of the creation of the trust, whichever is the later.
Trusts that were in existence on 6 October 2020, but have since been closed, are still required to have registered before 1 September 2022. Once the trust has been registered, the trust record can then be closed on the TRS.

Why is this important?

If you are a trustee of an existing trust, you need to consider whether the trust should be registered on the TRS.

If you were trustee of a trust that was brought to an end between 6 October 2020 and 1 September 2022, it may need to be registered with HMRC on the TRS, and the trust record closed.

If trustees fail to register their trust, or changes to the trust’s details by the deadlines, they could face penalties from HMRC.

How do I register a trust?

Trustees can register trusts using the Government website at www.gov.uk/guidance/manage-your-trusts-registration-service

Alternatively, trustees may wish to instruct a professional adviser to register the trust on the trustees’ behalf.

What happens if anything changes?

The TRS needs to be kept updated. If anything changes, the changes will need completing on the TRS within 90 days. Changes might include changes to the trustees’ and beneficiaries’ details, a change to the trust’s tax status, or the closure of the trust.

If the trust is taxable, the trustees must declare the trust is up to date on an annual basis by 31 January.

What records does the trustee need to keep?

Trustees need to ensure they keep up to date records for the trustees and beneficiaries, to include names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers (UK citizens), passport details (non-UK citizens), telephone numbers, countries of residence and nationality, and mental capacity at the time of registration (for trustees). Where the trustee is an organisation, the name and UTR of the organisation, and an email address, need to be provided.

In what circumstances do personal representatives of estates need to register trusts on the TRS?

In deceased persons’ estates, trusts can be created by will or under the intestacy rules. To allow an estate to be administered, trusts that arise in the estate are generally excluded from registration for a period of two years, from the date of death.

If a will trust is going to continue for more than two years from the date of death, or at any date beforehand accepts the addition of property from outside of the estate, the trust is required to be registered. This includes trusts such as discretionary trusts and life interest trusts that are established in wills, but also includes estates that do not include an express trust (i.e. a trust set out in the will) but where the estate administration will continue for more than two years. In such cases, the personal representatives are considered to hold the estate assets on bare trust for the beneficiaries after two years have elapsed, and the bare trust must be registered.

Trusts under the intestacy rules are created to hold assets for beneficiaries, usually minors. As these are statutory trusts, imposed by legislation and not intentionally created, personal representatives will not have to register these types of trust.

If an estate is a “complex estate” requiring its own tax returns for the period of administration and a UTR, it will need to be registered on the TRS by the personal representatives.

Author bio

Eleanor Evans TEP


Eleanor is Head of the Trusts and Estates Administration Department, a large team dealing with estates and trusts administration on behalf of financial institution and trust corporation clients.  Eleanor is a specialist in wills, probate, tax and trusts, and is a full member of STEP (the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners).  She is also a committee member of the STEP Wales branch.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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