Understanding and Paying the ICO Data Protection Fee

Find Out IF You Need To Pay The ICO Registration Fee

Written by 
James Morgenstern
Updated on
May 28, 2024

The short version

If you operate a limited company, you're highly likely to be managing personal data as part of your business. This might sound strange to many freelancers or contractors, but it all comes downs to the definition of personal data.

Personal data includes any basic information that can be used to identify someone, e.g. names, payment details, phone numbers... You can learn more what represent personal data in a comprehensive list of definitions.

As a limited company director, you're likely considered a data controller and unless exempted you are legally required to pay the ICO Data Protection Fee if you handle any personal data. You can check if you need to pay the ICO fee with their online questionnaire here.

For Micro Organisations: A fee of £40 applies if your annual turnover is £632,000 or less, and you have 10 or fewer staff members. If you fail to pay this fee, you could face fines of up to £4,350. Read on to learn more

Who is the ICO and what's the data protection fee for?

The ICO is dedicated to protecting information rights for the public's benefit, ensuring transparency from public bodies and safeguarding the privacy of individual data.

The data protection fee is a yearly charge that all UK organisations handling personal data must pay. This fee supports the operations of the ICO.

Who Needs to Pay?

If you handle personal data, you're required to pay the data protection fee, barring any exemptions. Meeting this legal requirement not only showcases your commitment to data protection but also safeguards you from potential fines.

Why You Might Receive Communication from the ICO

The ICO has been actively raising company awareness of their data protection law obligations and may have sent you a letter to remind you register.

If you have received correspondence from them, it likely means you've been identified as a business that processes personal data and have not yet registered or paid the fee. This is a call-to-action because ignoring it could mean facing serious penalties.

Paying the ICO data protection fee is a legal obligation under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Beyond compliance, by paying the fee, you contribute to the ICO's activities, which include handling data breaches, addressing complaints, and providing organisations with the necessary resources to manage data protection.

Exemptions from the Fee

Not every organisation is required to pay the ICO fee. You might be exempt if you process personal data exclusively for the following purposes:

If in doubt, you should take the ICO questionnaire or contact them to find out if you need to register.

Fee Structure Explained

The fee varies based on your organisation's size, turnover, and nature. The three-tier system is as follows:

You should note that ignoring the ICO's fee  can result in a substantial financial penalty of up to £4,350!

How to Pay the Data Protection Fee?

It’s a simple process and only takes a few minutes on the ICO's official website. If you are registering for the first time, click on 'first time payment'; this process should take about 15 minutes. If you are already registered, click on 'renew'.


While Mighty emphasises seamless and affordable accounting solutions, it's equally vital to ensure your data protection practices are in line with the law.

Under the current ICO regulations, every UK business must adhere to their data protection responsibilities. If you are a newly registered business, it's likely that the ICO will contact you to ensure your compliance.

For tailored advice regarding your specific business circumstances, we recommend contacting the ICO directly. Additionally, if you require assistance with any aspect of accounting, from VAT returns to tax savings, feel free to reach out to us.

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