FCA ‘authorisation' – the formal process of becoming directly regulated by the FCA – replaced the former OFT licensing regime with effect from 1 April 2014.
Firms no longer need a consumer credit licence. Instead, if they want to conduct any regulated activities they will need an authorisation from the FCA. There are two types of authorisation (see information on Full and Limited Permissions).
While the FCA started to accept applications for authorisation from new consumer credit firms from 1 April 2014, it was not feasible for the regulator to process applications from the 49,500 consumer credit firms who previously held a licence with the OFT before that date.
Existing firms were therefore required to apply to the FCA by 31 March 2014 for an “Interim Permission” which temporarily extends a firm's existing licence categories. An Interim Permission remains valid until a firm's application for authorisation has been submitted and approved or declined by the FCA. However, the firm must submit its application for authorisation during its landing slot or application slot. If it does not do so, its permission will be automatically cancelled by the FCA.
Any firm which failed to apply to the FCA before 31 March 2014, and therefore does not hold an Interim Permission, will be acting illegally if it continues to engage in consumer credit activities. Any firm without an Interim Permission should apply to become directly authorised by the FCA before offering any consumer credit services.