Does My Business Need to Register with the ICO?

Does My Business Need to Register with the ICO?


Feb 02, 2021 | Accounting, Company Law

A lot of Yorkshire Accountancy clients have been calling and emailing to ask if their business needs to register with the ICO.

The 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) update from the EU forced UK businesses to change their processes and complete extra admin, including registering their business with the ICO if it processes personal information.

What Is the ICO?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is a body that safeguards information and data privacy rights for residents in the UK. It enforces the GDPR and other relevant legislation, such as the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

A core objective of the ICO is to make sure businesses in the UK comply with the most update data protection laws. This means protecting personal information and sensitive data when handled or stored by companies.

The ICO is also responsible for handling complaints relating to personal data breaches by UK businesses. If they find your business guilty of breaking laws or not registering and paying the registration fee, they can come down hard with heavy fines.

Do I Need to Register My Business with the ICO?

Any UK entity that processes, stores or handles personal information of individuals will need to register their business with the ICO. personal information is defined as information that could help identify them, such as a date of birth or address. Registration to the ICO includes a data protection fee.

Do Sole Traders Need to Register with the ICO?

UK sole traders and freelancers may need to register with the ICO. All applicable UK entities must register, which could include limited companies, sole traders and partnerships.

What Are the ICO Registration Exemption?

Some exemptions exist. For example, you are exempt if you or your business:

  • Only processes personal data of staff
  • Only keep hard copies of personal data
  • Only keep personal data for marketing or charitable purposes

The Exception to the Exception

However, even if you fit one of the exemptions above, you are still required to register with the ICO and pay the registration fee if you have CCTV cameras on your business site for preventing crime.

There is an ICO assessment tool to determine if you need to register.

How Much is the ICO Registration Fee?

The fee you have to pay is determined by the size of your business and how many staff you employ. Thus, the fee could be anywhere between £40 and £2,900 with most businesses paying £40 (paid by businesses with a turnover of £632,000 or lower and fewer than 11 employees) or £60 (paid by businesses with a turnover of £36 million or lower and fewer than 251 employees).

You can save £5 each year by agreeing to pay by direct debit.

How Can I Register My Business with the ICO?

You can pay your data protection fee online via the ICO website. If it’s the first time you’re submitting a payment, you’ll need to fill out a form. This can take around 15 minutes. You’ll need your company registration number (if you have one), the number of employees you have, your contact details, and your bank or card details.

You can register on the ICO website and pay your fee at the same time. You should gather your business details and business bank account to do this. The process can take 15-30 minutes.

What Happens If I Do Not Register with ICO?

Failing to register your business can result in an annual fine of £4,350. Moreover, the ICO publishes the names of businesses that have signed up, meaning your customers, clients and partners could find out if you are not registered.

For more advice, do not hesitate to reach out to the Yorkshire Accountancy team!


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