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Understanding the UK Regulatory Framework & Processes to get a crypto exchange license UK.


Starting from October 8, 2023, companies targeting the UK's retail consumer market with cryptoasset promotions are legally required to be either authorized or registered by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or have their marketing approved by an already authorized entity.



In the UK's crypto sector, businesses benefit from a supportive environment, even though a dedicated UK crypto exchange license isn't currently required. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), through its Innovation Hub, provides advisory support for crypto market players, though participation is optional. This creates some uncertainty regarding the necessity of a crypto exchange license in the UK.

The UK does not adhere to a universal definition for crypto assets. The UK Cryptoasset Taskforce, consisting of the FCA, Her Majesty's Treasury (HMT), and the Bank of England (BoE), classifies crypto assets based on usage and type. This includes:

  • Exchange tokens, like Bitcoin and Ether, which are decentralized and not backed by any authority, primarily used for trading and investment.

  • Security tokens, categorized under 'specified investments' by the Financial Services and Markets Act (2000), often represent ownership rights and are deemed securities under MiFID II.

  • Utility tokens, exchangeable for certain services or goods.

Additionally, the FCA's 2019 Policy Statement introduced e-money tokens, in line with the Electronic Money Regulations (2018).

While a specific cryptocurrency license in the UK isn't mandatory, the evolving regulatory landscape and the FCA’s proactive stance through the Innovation Hub signify the UK’s commitment to fostering crypto businesses. This approach makes the UK an attractive hub for companies seeking a crypto exchange license in the UK, ensuring operation in compliance with developing regulations.

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Request 30-minute FREE consulting for cryptocurreceny license in the UK.

In April 2022, the UK government committed to developing a new regulatory framework for crypto assets, aiming to balance the risks and opportunities they present. This commitment materialized with the release of a consultation paper on February 1, 2023, later updated in October 2023, which outlines the proposed regulatory measures signifying a significant shift in the UK's approach to overseeing crypto assets. This document builds on Her Majesty's Treasury's previous focus on stablecoins and the broader financial aspects of crypto assets.


The intended regulations are crafted to establish the UK as a leading figure in the field of cryptoasset technology and innovation within the global financial sector. The goal is to create a conducive environment for crypto asset service providers to prosper in the UK, while ensuring consumer protection and financial stability. In November 2023, the FCA released finalized Finalised non-handbook guidance on Cryptoasset Financial Promotions, providing comprehensive insights into the UK's evolving crypto regulation landscape.


  1. Enhanced Credibility: Holding an FCA crypto license boosts the trust and credibility of your business among investors and customers, as it demonstrates compliance with UK's rigorous regulatory standards.

  2. Access to UK Market: The cryptocurrency license UK enables legal access to one of the world's leading financial markets, allowing your crypto business to operate and grow within the UK.

  3. Consumer Trust and Protection: Being FCA licensed assures customers of your commitment to consumer protection, fostering confidence in your services and adherence to high ethical standards.

  4. Regulatory Guidance: Obtaining a license provides access to FCA's guidance, helping your business navigate the complex regulatory environment and stay abreast of compliance requirements.

  5. Competitive Advantage: Having an FCA crypto license can offer a competitive edge in the market, distinguishing your business from unregulated entities and attracting more discerning clients.

  6. Financial Stability and Integrity: The licensing process involves stringent checks, ensuring your business practices contribute to financial stability and integrity in the crypto market.

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To obtain a cryptocurrency license in the UK, companies must meet a set of comprehensive requirements and also consider the associated costs:

  1. Company Registration: The entity must be officially registered within the UK.

  2. Office Location: A physical office presence within the UK is mandatory.

  3. Record Keeping: Detailed records of all company transactions must be maintained at the business premises.

  4. Resident Director Appointment: The company is required to appoint a director who resides in the UK and possesses the necessary business management experience and qualifications.

  5. Share Capital Requirement: Currently, there is no stipulated minimum share capital needed for acquiring a cryptocurrency license.

  6. AML/CFT Policy Creation and Implementation: Establish a policy that outlines the company's approach to AML/CFT, including procedures and controls to mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

  7. KYC Procedures: Develop a robust Know Your Customer (KYC) process for verifying customer identities and profiles.

  8. AML/CFT Compliance Officer Appointment: Assign a responsible officer to oversee AML/CFT compliance, employee training, and coordinate all related activities.

  9. Internal Audit Function: Set up an internal audit department responsible for reviewing and ensuring compliance with AML/CFT protocols.

  10. Cost of Crypto License: The application fee for the crypto license in the UK varies based on the company's cryptoasset income.

    • For businesses with a UK cryptoasset income of up to £250,000, the application fee is £2,000.

    • For businesses with a UK cryptoasset income over £250,000, the application fee is £10,000.

It's important to keep in mind that these requirements and costs are subject to change. For the most current information, consulting with specialized cryptocurrency license lawyers in the UK, such as Consulting24 is recommended to ensure full compliance with the latest regulatory standards and financial obligations.

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Mardo Soo


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Lena Elvbakken


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To register a crypto business with the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the following steps and documentation are necessary:

  1. Submission of Directors' and Shareholders' Credentials: Provide resumes of directors and shareholders to verify their experience, qualifications, and competence.

  2. Program of Operations: Outline the specific crypto asset activities undertaken by the company.

  3. Detailed Business Plan: Include measures for consumer protection and strategies to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

  4. Risk Management Policy: Describe the company's approach to safeguarding customer funds.

  5. Marketing Plan: Detail the target customer base and sales channels.

  6. Company Structure: Provide information about the corporate structure and any outsourcing arrangements.

  7. IT Systems Information: Describe the IT systems, including security policies and procedures.

  8. AML/CFT System Details: Outline the AML/CFT system and risk assessment, including staff training materials.

  9. Crypto Asset Wallets: Provide all public keys/addresses of the company's crypto asset wallets.

  10. Customer Agreements and Onboarding Process: Outline the process for customer agreements and onboarding.

  11. Customer Due Diligence Documentation: Support compliance with legal requirements for customer due diligence and enhanced due diligence.

  12. Transaction Monitoring Procedures: Detail the process for monitoring transactions.

  13. Record Keeping and Registration Procedures: Explain the procedures for maintaining records and registration.

  14. Money Laundering Reporting: Outline the reporting procedures for money laundering.

  15. Beneficial Owner Forms: Provide forms for company shareholders.

The registration process involves:

  1. Application Submission: Complete and submit an application form to the FCA.

  2. Registration Fee Payment: Pay £2,000 for businesses with revenue under £250,000, or £10,000 for revenue above £250,000.

  3. Supervisor Appointment: The FCA assigns a supervisor to review the application.

  4. Additional Information Submission: Provide any extra information requested by the supervisor.

  5. FCA Review Process: The FCA conducts a comprehensive review using various databases and information from other regulators.

  6. Compliance Assessment: Assess compliance with minimum threshold conditions based on business complexity.

  7. Authorization Issuance: If successful, the FCA issues authorization for the regulated activity.

  8. Confirmation and Financial Services Register Update: The FCA provides written confirmation of the decision and updates the Financial Services Register.

Withdrawal and Rejection Provisions:

  • Applicants can withdraw their application during the authorization process, though the fee is non-refundable.

  • If rejected, the FCA will explain the decision and refund the fee, allowing for resubmission.

The FCA may suspend or cancel a crypto company's registration if it fails to meet ongoing requirements. Authorized companies also owe a periodic fee, calculated based on various factors, including the company's valuation and the number of months in the payment year. This fee is determined by the FCA on an individual basis.

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