FSA enhances passporting process

Ramesh Sharma

April 29, 2006

With around 2,000 UK businesses currently conducting work in other European Economic Areas (EEA) states, the FSA felt it necessary to undertake a revamp to make the system clearer for more businesses.

Samantha Bennett, spokesperson for the FSA, said: “It is about trying to make it easier for firms to do business with us. We’ve added the FAQs, which should help firms that want to take up this opportunity to do so.”

Any UK firm can take up a passporting opportunity, as long as its business falls under the Financial Services and Markets Act’s single market directive.

There is no fee to apply for the passport and permission is usually granted between one and three months after the application has been made, depending on whether the firm wishes to establish a branch in the country or just do cross-border business, such as over the phone or online.

Appointed representatives (ARs) are permitted to seek a passport, with the consent of its principal, to carry out the same tasks within the 27-member EEA framework.

Currently, Germany is the most popular country, with 123 firms possessing a passport to trade there, with France (113), the Netherlands (92) and Ireland (91) following behind.

Eddie Goldsmith, senior partner at Goldsmith Williams, said: “It is interesting to see that so few firms do business across borders despite the fact that the regulations are in place. I’d like to know why all the big UK lenders are not following this path and expanding into Europe. However, anything which helps this process can only be a good thing and it has my support.”

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