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Check if your scheme is a master trust

The Pension Schemes Act 2017 introduces a definition of 'master trust'. You should assess whether your pension scheme meets this definition.

If you run a scheme defined as a master trust, you must be authorised by us and need to comply with certain duties set out in the 2017 Act.

If your scheme is defined as a master trust and you haven’t applied for authorisation (or received authorisation to operate), you are operating illegally – you must cease operation, and wind-up. We may also serve you with a penalty.

Master trusts that are operating without authorisation must immediately notify us by emailing

You’ll be required to submit a triggering event notification form. We’ll then work closely with you to make sure you exit the market in a timely and orderly way.

Schemes defined as a master trust

A master trust is defined as an occupational pension scheme that:

  • provides money purchase benefits
  • is used, or intended to be used, by two or more employers
  • is not used, or intended to be used, only by employers which are connected with each other
  • is not a public service pension scheme

A master trust may also be a group of schemes, none of which are already master trusts, which provide money purchase benefits, and where each scheme in the group is under 'common control' with other schemes in the group. We refer to this group of schemes as ‘cluster schemes’ in our master trust code of practice.

If your scheme also offers other benefits, the duties will generally only apply to the money purchase benefits provision. If you are unsure how this applies to your scheme, you should seek advice.

Check your scheme

You can use our step-by-step guide to check if your scheme meets the definition of a master trust.

Further information

For a more detailed definition of a master trust, see paragraphs 22 to 33 of the master trust code.