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Public service scheme return

Information and resources to help you prepare for and complete a scheme return for a public service pension scheme.

See scheme return for further information about completing the scheme return, including the most common queries.



Scheme return 2023

  • We will send scheme return notices from October 2023.
  • You must complete the scheme return within six weeks of receiving your scheme return notice.
  • If you're unable to complete the scheme return by the due date, contact us.

Key points

  • Managers of public service schemes must ensure their annual scheme return is completed accurately and on time.
  • They must also let us know of any changes to their scheme’s ‘registrable information’ and provide the up-to-date information as soon as possible.
  • Public service pension schemes that are registered with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and have more than one member must be registered with us.

Scheme returns

Public service pension schemes are legally required to provide ‘registrable information’ to us. This includes completing a scheme return each year. We also ask for some additional information to help us build up as accurate a picture of public service schemes as possible. Failing to complete the scheme return by the required date could lead to us fining the scheme manager or taking other action.

Read a quick guide to the scheme return for public service pension schemes (PDF, 167kb, 4 pages).

When you receive your scheme return notice you should complete it using our online service Exchange.

We use the information from the scheme return for a number of purposes. This includes maintaining our register of pension schemes and calculating schemes’ annual levy charges.

Information you’ll need to confirm in your scheme return:

  • Scheme details – including name, Pension Scheme Registry (PSR) number, address, scheme type, HMRC reference number and current status.
  • Number of members – active, deferred and pensioner.
  • Scheme manager – name, address and contact details.
  • Pension board members – name, address and contact details.
  • Employer details.
  • Service provider details – such as third-party or in-house administrator, auditor and insurer.
  • Scheme contact – name, address and contact details.
  • Pension Tracing Service contact details – name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • Whether you consent to electronic service – we'd like to deliver documents by email wherever possible.

Example scheme return

Once you've submitted your scheme return you'll receive a confirmation email to the Exchange user account you used to submit the scheme return. If you don't receive the email, please contact us.

Getting started with Exchange

If you've used Exchange before, log on using your registered email address and password. Choose the scheme from the 'My schemes' page and select the 'Scheme maintenance' option.

If you haven't used Exchange before you'll need to register.

If you need to give someone else access to the scheme details in Exchange, log in to the scheme and select 'Manage who can access this scheme online' from the 'Scheme options' menu.

Consent to electronic service

We'd like to deliver documents by email wherever possible, we are therefore asking you to consent to this.

How to update your details and consent preferences

Please note, you will need to update your details and consent to electronic service for each scheme that you manage.

Follow the step-by-step guide below to update the contact details and consent preferences: 

1. Log into Exchange
2. Click the ‘My Schemes’ tab at the top of the screen
3. Select the relevant scheme from the list in your view
4. Select 'Update Scheme Details'
5. Select 'Contact Details'
6. Select ‘Scheme Return Contact’ to check contact details are correct
7. Click ‘amend’ if you need to update details
8. Click 'confirm’ or 'cancel’ depending on whether a change has been made
9. Select 'Consent to electronic service’ and provide consent by ticking the box. If you do not wish to consent, leave the ‘Consent to electronic service’ box unticked
10. Click the ‘Save’ button to finish

By completing this process we can make sure you receive emails containing important information required for your Scheme Return Notice, and other important documents or notifications relating to scheme(s) you manage.

Keep scheme information up to date

It is a legal requirement for managers of a scheme to tell us about changes to their scheme’s registrable information as soon as reasonably practicable. This includes keeping up to date the person you have identified as the scheme contact. Managers of schemes can be fined if they don't tell us about changes to registrable information.

You can view and update your scheme’s information at anytime using Exchange.

Register a scheme

Managers of public service pension schemes that are ‘registrable schemes’ must register their scheme with us. A ‘registrable scheme’ is an occupational or personal pension scheme that is registered with HMRC and has more than one member.

Public service schemes are those principally for:

  • the armed forces
  • civil servants
  • firefighters
  • health service workers
  • the judiciary
  • local government workers
  • the police
  • teachers

In due course they may also include some public body schemes.

Managers of public service pension schemes that need to register with us must do so within three months of registering with HMRC and having more than one member. Managers could face a fine if they don't register on time.

If you need to register a scheme, contact us.