Understanding FCA Authorisation for Motor Dealers: Full vs. Limited Permission


If you’re in the business of selling motor vehicles, you may have heard about FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) authorisation. FCA authorisation is essential for businesses that offer consumer credit or provide financial services. However, not all motor dealers require the same level of authorisation. In this industry insight article, we’ll explore the key differences between “Full” and “Limited” Permission and help you understand which one might be right for your dealership.

Full Permission vs. Limited Permission: What’s the Difference?

  1. Full Permission:

Full Permission is typically required by motor dealers who extensively engage in consumer credit activities or offer a wide range of financial products and services. Here’s what you need to know about Full Permission:

a. Comprehensive Scope: Businesses with Full Permission can offer various financial products, including hire purchase agreements, personal contract purchase (PCP), and other forms of credit to their customers. This permission is suitable for dealerships with a substantial finance division.

b. Thorough Application Process: Obtaining Full Permission involves a detailed and comprehensive application process, which includes providing extensive financial information and demonstrating compliance with stringent FCA regulations. It can be time-consuming and may require expert guidance.

c. Regulatory Oversight: Once authorised with Full Permission, motor dealers are subject to ongoing regulatory oversight from the FCA. Compliance with rules and regulations is a top priority, and regular reporting is mandatory.

d. Enhanced Consumer Protection: Full Permission dealerships must adhere to a higher level of consumer protection standards, ensuring that customers are treated fairly and transparently in all financial dealings.

  1. Limited Permission:

Limited Permission is a more streamlined option suitable for motor dealers who engage in fewer credit activities or offer a more limited range of financial services. Here’s what you need to know about Limited Permission:

a. Simplified Scope: Limited Permission restricts the types of consumer credit activities a dealership can engage in. It’s designed for dealerships that may only offer credit for a limited range of services or products, such as vehicle finance agreements.

b. Less Stringent Application Process: Applying for Limited Permission is typically less complex than Full Permission. While compliance is still essential, the application process is generally more straightforward.

c. Reduced Regulatory Oversight: Dealerships with Limited Permission have a lower level of ongoing regulatory oversight from the FCA compared to those with Full Permission. However, compliance with relevant rules and regulations is still crucial.

d. Focused Consumer Protection: Although consumer protection is vital, dealers with Limited Permission must meet a somewhat less rigorous set of standards compared to Full Permission dealers. Nevertheless, fair treatment of customers remains a priority.

Choosing the Right Permission for Your Dealership

Determining whether Full or Limited Permission is right for your motor dealership depends on the extent of your involvement in consumer credit activities and the range of financial services you offer. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Business Activities: Evaluate the breadth of your financial services. If you offer a wide range of credit options and financial products, Full Permission may be necessary. On the other hand, if your credit activities are limited, Limited Permission might be more suitable.
  2. Resource Commitment: Consider the resources required for each type of authorisation. Full Permission demands more extensive documentation and ongoing compliance efforts. Assess whether your dealership has the capacity to meet these requirements.
  3. Compliance Expertise: Seek expert advice, especially if you are unsure which permission is appropriate. Legal and compliance professionals can help you navigate the regulatory landscape and make informed decisions.


FCA authorisation is a critical step for motor dealerships involved in consumer credit activities or financial services. Choosing between Full and Limited Permission hinges on the scope of your business and your commitment to compliance. Remember that regardless of the permission type, maintaining a commitment to fair treatment of customers and adherence to FCA regulations should be a top priority. Make your choice wisely, and you’ll be on the right track to operate your motor dealership successfully within the bounds of the law.

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