The ICO exists to empower you through information.

If you are reading this page, you are probably in the construction sector and have recently received a letter from the ICO.

As the UK’s data protection regulator, we are contacting all organisations that appear to need to pay a fee under data protection legislation.

All businesses and other organisations that process personal information should pay the annual data protection fee, unless they are exempt. The fee applies no matter how big, or small, your business or organisation is, although not everyone has to pay the same amount.

If you've paid in the last 14 days, please ignore the letter asking you to pay. If you have paid by card or direct debit, it can take up to 24 hours to receive confirmation. You will need to renew your fee every 12 months.

What is data protection?

The information you hold about your customers and clients is one of your biggest assets. If you want to make the best use of it, you need to be aware of your responsibilities.

Data protection isn’t just about paying the fee. It is the fair and proper use of information about people. Understanding it will help you use that data effectively, so you can provide the products and services your customers want and need. It will also help you use that data safely. Mistakes can be expensive to put right. They can also be damaging to clients and threaten your reputation as a business that puts its customers first.

The UK data protection regime is set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR.

What is 'personal data'?

Personal data is information about particular living individuals. This might be anyone, including customers, clients, employees, business partners, members, supporters, business contacts, public officials or members of the public.

It does not need to be 'private' information – Information which is public knowledge or which is about someone's professional life can be personal data too.

It includes records held electronically (such as on computer, laptops, smartphones or cameras) as well as paper records, if you plan to put them on a computer or other electronic device or if you file them in an organised way.

Does data protection apply to me?

Yes, if you have information about people for any business or other non-household purpose.

Data protection law applies to any 'processing of personal data', so will apply to most businesses and organisations, whatever their size. But there are some exemptions from the obligation to pay.

What do I need to do?

If you have received a letter from us, quoting your Companies House registration number you must:

Our self-assessment tool will help you work out if you need to pay. We have also added some frequently asked questions below.

If you do need to pay, the online form will ask for your sector. You can choose, but are not limited, to:

  • Land and Property Services, Building and Property Construction, Construction Company
  • Land and Property Services, Building and Property Construction, Surveyor
  • General Business, Business Advice and Consultancy, Consultant
  • General Business, Supplier of Services, Other

Frequently asked questions

I have CCTV on my business premises for crime prevention reasons – do I need to pay a fee?

Yes. Images of people caught on camera is their personal data. If you record these images to prevent crime, and crime prevention is not the purpose of your business, then you need to pay. 

I have a dashcam on my business vehicle – do I need to pay the fee?

If you have a dashcam that you use for work purposes on a vehicle that you use for work – even if you own the vehicle -  then you will need to pay a data protection fee. Again, images of people recorded on camera – even when in their cars - will be their personal data.

I only hold names, addresses and contact details of my customers – do I need to pay?

If the information you are holding about people is only for the purposes of keeping your own accounts and records, such as keeping records of purchases, sales or other transactions to ensure the relevant payments, deliveries or services happen, then you are likely to be exempt from the requirement to pay.

However, this specifically excludes information processed by or obtained from credit reference agencies and any business for the purpose of credit checking.

I do credit checks on my clients – do I need to pay?

Yes. When performing a credit check you will be sharing sensitive data with third party agencies so you would need to pay the fee. 

My company is dormant – do I need to pay?

It depends. If your business is dormant and you are not processing personal data electronically, then you’re not required to pay the fee.

However, some businesses and professionals are required to retain some personal data after they cease trading or practicing, as required by industry guidelines. If this applies to you then you probably will need to pay.

Please visit data protection fee exemptions to check.

Do I have to pay if I have a website?

It depends on what’s on your website and what other personal data you hold.

If you use your website to promote another person's business activity, goods, or services, you will need to pay because you are advertising and marketing for others.

If you just have a website that advertises your own products or services, then you won’t need to pay because of your website. But you will need to use our self-assessment tool to see if there are any other activities you undertake that mean you do need to pay.

Do I have to pay because I hold client data on a computer?

You are not usually required to pay just because you hold client details on computer, but the important point is what you do with those details. Our self-assessment tool will help you to see if any of your activities mean you need to pay.

Do I have to pay because I take card payments?

You are also not required to pay just because you take card payments. However, if you provide credit facilities and do credit checks on customers via a credit reference agency, or if you process personal data for any other non-exempt reason, then you do need to pay.

More information

There is more information about the data protection fee on our website.

There is also lots of information for sole traders and smaller businesses on our SME web hub, to help you understand data protection and how it can help you safely make the most out of the personal data you hold.