Do you have an ICO?

Most used car dealers aren’t aware that you have to have an ICO number, otherwise you can’t legally transact. This means we wouldn’t be able to partner with you and add those extra elements to your business to help it grow. Not many finance brokers / lenders talk about this, so we’ve made this blog that specifically covers exactly what you need, why and how long the process takes to make sure that your used car dealership is covered and ready to focus on the real things you love to do; selling cars to support happy customers.

What is the ICO?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent body set up to uphold information rights. They uphold information from the public and cover all types of legislation and data protection to ensure businesses handle personal information according to guidelines. These guidelines check whether a company uses secure servers, transaction methods etc of customer data.  The ICO provides an online self assessment tool to help businesses understand whether you need to register by going through a series of questions. They can also provide you with guidance, data protection enquiries and talk through any complaints.

Do I need an ICO number?

Under the data protection law, every sole trader or organisation needs to have an ICO number and pay the fee if they process personal information, unless they are exempt. This means that if you’re a used car dealer that holds, transfers and stores customer information – you have to pay. When you work with a lender or finance broker to connect your customers to finance deals, you are transacting customer information so you must have the ICO number registered. 

What counts as customer information?

The term ‘personal data’ is very broad as to what it contains. However, customer information for used car dealerships applies to data from their identification number and IP address. Other customer information consists of their location, name, occupation, cultural, mental and society identification. This is all valuable data but specifically for you, customers data also includes more sensitive financial information. These are formal records about the individuals such as their credit or debit card details, financial history and credit scores or employment details. What’s known as sensitive personal information is kept in higher protection, these include health data, as well as racial, ethnic origin and religion. During a used car finance application a customer is often asked to provide a variety of the above, so having a ICO number is essential. 

How do I get my ICO number?

All you have to do to become registered is pay £40 for the year and it takes 15 minutes to fill out the form. You’ll only have to do this once a year just like an MOT and Taxing your vehicle. This amount is applied to small and independent businesses. Paying for an ICO is a legal requirement and once you’ve done this, you’ll finally be able to connect with us and gain access to our panel of lenders covering all credit changes with some of them offering remote selling and remote e-signing of agreements! For a standard order, it takes 48 hours to get your ICO number. For credit card payments, they will email you within 1-3 working days in completion of your order with confirmation of registration and payment.

What happens if I don’t pay it?

If you fail to comply with the ICO or the information notice, they are entitled to fine you 4% of your total annual turnover. It’s very important that you take your time to fill out the form to make sure all the details are correct. 

Prepare these details so they’re at hand when filling out the form:

  • Payment details
  • Dealership details, such as the company house number, name, address etc.
  • The type of data you process
  • Information about your staff numbers and turnover

The sensitive information that you have to provide will be guaranteed to be kept private. They can also offer you a renewal, giving you an email six weeks prior to your fee expiring – this could be handy if you’re managing your dealership on your own. To renew your ICO number visit

Do you have any questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to write about? Leave your comment below.