Application Process for Debt Management Firms 

The purpose of this section is to provide information to firms considering applying for authorisation as a debt management firm. The Central Bank of Ireland (Central Bank) is the competent authority in Ireland for the authorisation and supervision of Debt  Management Firms under Part V of the Central Bank Act 1997 (as amended) (the Act).

Each applicant seeking authorisation must satisfy the Central Bank that it can meet the Authorisation Requirements and Standards for Debt Management Firms (AR&S). In fulfilling its statutory role in this regard, the Central Bank adopts a robust, structured and risk-based process that seeks to ensure that only those applicants that demonstrate compliance with the AR&S are authorised. 

The Central Bank seeks to assess each application as expeditiously as possible while meeting its obligation to operate a rigorous and effective gatekeeper function.  It aims to ensure that the application process is facilitative and accessible from the perspective of applicants and, importantly, that applicants have clarity with regard to the process, its requirements and timelines.

Before Applying for Authorisation

 In advance of submitting an application for authorisation, the firm should satisfy itself that:

  • it is capable of complying with, and adhering to, the AR&S and on-going supervisory requirements that must be satisfied on an on-going basis;
  • It meets the Fitness and Probity Standards, including the Minimum Competency Code (where applicable). It is expected that all applicant firms will propose at least one holder of a Pre-Approval Controlled Function role (PCF) who will demonstrate that they meet minimum competency requirements for the proposed activities of the firm;
  • it has read the Guidance Note for the Completion of an Application for Authorisation as a Debt Management Firm, and has taken the information provided therein into consideration when completing the Application Form for Authorisation as a Debt Management Firm.

Firms are advised to seek legal advice if they are unsure as to whether their proposed activities require authorisation pursuant to the Act, or if they are unsure as to how they should comply with the AR&S. If, after having received and considered such advice, firms have any doubt about their status, they are advised to submit an application for authorisation.

Summary of the Key Stages in the Application Process

  Service Standards

As set out in Appendix A of the Regulatory Service Standards Performance report, which relates to Service Standard Exceptions, the Service Standards set out do not apply in certain cases, including, but not limited to, cases where:

  • Responses are pending from third parties
  • Persons are subject to interview;
  • Significant legal issues arise;
  • Significant fitness and probity issues arise;
  • The business model of an applicant is complex or novel in nature;
  • Significant changes to the business model, the applicant’s shareholder structure or other key aspects of an application arise during the review process, or where the application becomes dormant; and
  • The Central Bank is minded to refuse an application.

Service Standards Performance Reports

Please find a link to the Service Standards Performance Reports page.

The reports set out the Central Bank's performance against Service Standards that it has committed to in respect of (i) Authorisation of Funds, (ii) Authorisation of Financial Service Providers and (iii) Processing of Fitness and Probity applications, on a half-yearly basis.