So you’ve received a letter from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but what does it mean?  Does it apply to you? How much should you pay?  Is this a one off fee or a yearly subscription?

The first thing to do is not panic.  Despite the penalty for not registering properly and paying the annual registration fee being quite severe, the ICO is conscious that this is a new levy and that it will take time for businesses and organisations to understand what to do.

The fact is that The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every organisation or sole trader who processes personal information to pay a data protection fee to the ICO, unless they are exempt. 

Essentially, the data controller (who processes the information) has to register with the ICO and there is a register of 400,000 bodies/organisations/companies/businesses in total.

On your letter, it will tell you which “Tier” you are in – and this will relate to how many employees you have or the turnover you produce. It is important that you register and pay the correct amount for the correct tier – the link to help you is: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-fee/


Although the 2018 Regulations come into effect on 25 May 2018, this doesn’t mean everyone now has to pay the new fee. Controllers who have a current registration (or notification) under the 1998 Act do not have to pay the new fee until that registration has expired.

From 1st April 2019, The Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2019 exempted the processing of personal data by members of the House of Lords, elected representatives and prospective representatives, although this was not limited and included, MPs, MSPs, AMs in Wales, MEPS and councillors in county and district councils, along with elected mayors and police commissioners.

In stating that, unless you are a very small business processing no personal data at all, you will be on, at the very least, Tier 1 – a basic registration costing £40.00 per year.  Tier 2 is £60, with Tier 3 (for larger organisations) costed at £2,950 per annum.

All in all, this can be quite complicated for some businesses or smaller organisations and that is where perhaps The Document Warehouse (TDW) can help.  TDW is fully conversant with this regulation and can advise you on how to register and make payments – it can also guide you and help if a payment/registration is not required.

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