Setting up a registered pension scheme

By Tolley

The following Employment Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Setting up a registered pension scheme
  • Introduction
  • Occupational pension schemes
  • Non-occupational pension schemes
  • Legal structure of a registered pension scheme
  • The pension scheme registration process (to October 2013)
  • The pension scheme registration process (from October 2013)
  • Appealing a rejected application to register a pension scheme
  • Registered pension scheme Administrator
  • Duties of the registered pension scheme Administrator


HMRC automatically treated most pre-existing HMRC approved pension schemes as registered pension schemes under the current tax regime which came into effect from 6 April 2006. Other tax-privileged schemes and pension contracts (such as retirement annuity contracts) were also automatically treated as registered pension schemes from the same date.

Since 6 April 2006, new pension schemes, if they are to enjoy the associated tax privileges, must register with HMRC. Registration is undertaken through an online process (see the GOV.UK website ).

Registered pension schemes comprise occupational schemes and non-occupational schemes.

Occupational pension schemes

An occupational pension scheme is defined in FA 2004, s 150 as a pension scheme which has been established by an employer or employers, and which provides benefits to or in respect of employees of the employer who has established the scheme, or employees of any other employer.

An occupational scheme may, under section 150, “provide benefits to or in respect of other persons”. In other words, an occupational pension scheme is not restricted in terms of membership to employees of the sponsoring employer; it may under its own rules open its membership to other parties, who may include minors or non-working spouses for whom contributions are paid by parents, grandparents or working spouses, and partners in a partnership as well as the partnership’s employees.

Any employer who establishes or participates in an occupational pension scheme is referred to as a ‘sponsoring employer’ in respect of the scheme. The identity of the sponsoring employer(s) should be clear from the scheme documents.

Non-occupational pension schemes

The rules concerning who can establish a registered pension scheme that is not an occupational pension scheme were amended with effect from 6 April 2007.

Non-occupational pension schemes applying for registration with HMRC on or after that date must be established by

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