Guidance updated in relation to using the online service for pension scheme administrators and practitioners

01 December 2020

GThe HMRC guidance page which provides a step by step guide on how to use the online service for both pension scheme administrators and practitioners has been updated to explain what to do if Government Gateway credentials fail because they have not been used for three years or more.

Pension scheme administrators

Where a pension scheme administrator is registered on the Pension schemes online service but has not logged into their business tax account in the past three years, they will not be able to access the online service. This is because HMRC will have deleted their Government Gateway credentials, but will still retain a record of the administrator’s pension scheme administrator ID and information relating to the Pension Schemes online service.

If a pension scheme administrator attempts to access the service using deleted credentials, they will receive a message as if the credentials are incorrect.

If there are multiple users under one scheme administrator ID, other users should check if they still have access. Where they can access the online service, then only steps one to five need to be followed. Once this has been done, an existing administrator user can allocate the service to the administrator who has been denied access.

To access Pension schemes online again, steps one to eight must be followed if either of the following conditions apply:

  • There is only one user
  • All users have not logged in for more than three years

The steps to take are as follows:

  1. Access the log in page, and enter the relevant email address, then select ‘continue’. The administrator will receive a confirmation code to their email address. Enter the relevant code and select ‘continue’. If the code is entered correctly, this confirms the email address and ‘continue’ can be selected again
  2. The scheme administrator must enter their full name and select ‘continue’
  3. They will need to create a new password for their business tax account. This must be at least ten characters. ‘Continue’ must then be selected
  4. A recovery must then be set up for sign in details. A recovery word must be selected that is between six and 12 characters. ‘Continue’ must then be selected. A new Government Gateway user ID will be displayed, meaning that a user ID and password have been set up. The ‘continue’ button should be selected
  5. The pension scheme administrator will need to request access to the Pension schemes online service again – the scheme administrator ID and the postcode it’s registered under should be provided. ‘Request access’ should then be selected. Where the scheme administrator ID is not known, contact will need to be made with Pension schemes services
  6. Confirmation will be provided on screen that access has been requested to Pension schemes online for administrators. An activation code will be provided in the post within seven days to the address that the pension scheme administrator ID is registered under. Selecting ‘continue’ will take the administrator to their business tax account homepage. If an activation code isn’t provided within seven days, a new one can be requested from this page
  7. Once the activation code has been received, the scheme administrator can log into their business tax account and select ‘access Pension schemes online for administrators’
  8. The 12-character activation code should be entered, and ‘get access’ selected – there will be confirmation on screen that the scheme administrator can access the service. If ‘continue’ is selected, they will be taken to their business tax account homepage, where the service can be selected


Pension scheme practitioners who have not logged in using their business tax account in the past three years may also have had their credentials deleted. To gain access again, they too should follow steps one to eight, but in step one should instead use this link and enter their practitioner ID when prompted to.


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