In 2020, a new HMRC Directive called the EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (MLD5) came into force. It has the effect of significantly widening the scope of trusts that are required to register with HMRC’s Trust Registration Service (TRS), and trustees will need to carefully consider their obligations.

Under a previous Directive, MLD4, most taxable trusts were required to register with the TRS. MLD5 widens the scope of registerable trusts significantly to (a) certain non-UK resident trusts and (b) any UK resident express (deliberately created) trust, except those specifically excluded from the obligation to register, which are as follows:

  • trusts imposed by law, for example, trusts that arise under an intestacy or bankruptcy

  • trusts imposed by court order

  • pension scheme trusts (provided it is a registered pension scheme)

  • trusts of insurance policies which pay out on the death, terminal or critical illness or permanent disability of the person assured, including trusts holding policies with a surrender value. The trusts must, however, pay out within two years of the death

  • charitable trusts (but only for UK-registered charities, or charities exempt from registration)

  • pilot trusts created before 6 October 2020 and which hold less than £100

  • trusts established by will, which only hold property comprised in a person’s estate and which terminate within two years of the death of the individual

  • trusts of jointly held property, for example, property held as joint tenants or tenants in common, provided the trustees and beneficiaries are the same. It has since been clarified that trusts required in order to open a bank account for a child are also excluded from registration

  • trusts required to meet legislative requirements. This expressly includes disabled persons trusts, bereaved minor trusts, 18-25 trusts, and personal injury trusts

  • trusts already registered in an EU member state, and

  • certain commercial trusts.

The types of trusts that are not excluded by this list (and therefore may be required to register) are wide ranging and in particular, you will see that registration will be required for (a) most bare trusts; (b) nominee arrangements; and (c) trusts of jointly held property (joint tenants/tenants in common) where the trustees and beneficiaries are not the same. (Although in most cases where property is jointly held, the trustees and beneficiaries will be the same, and there is therefore no requirement to register).

Executors of estates are also required to register where they are ‘complex’ (as defined in the HMRC legislation) or in certain cases where the administration continues for more than two years.


Non-taxable trusts that are in existence on 6 October 2020 must register by 1 September 2022, even if the trust has ended since 6 October 2020.

Non-taxable trusts created after 6 October 2020 must register within 90 days of creation or by 1 September 2022 (whichever is later).

(There are different deadlines for taxable trusts but generally these have already been registered under the older MLD4 regime).


Simply put, the registration procedure will involve:

  1. Creating a Government Gateway User ID for the trust;

  2. Providing substantial information about the Trust, its settlor(s), trustees, beneficiaries, and Trust assets; and

  3. On an ongoing basis, updating the Trust Registration Service (TRS) regarding any changes to the information recorded about the Trust within 90 days of the change.

Trustees can register directly on the HMRC website, or they may prefer to appoint an agent to act on their behalf. Phillips Lewis Smith is able to act as an agent for trustees and provide associated advice.

If you require further assistance, please contact Adele Harrison by email: or phone (020 7925 2244).