We live in a data-driven world. Almost every transaction and interaction you have with most organisations involves you sharing personal data, such as your name, address and birth date. You share data online too, every time you visit a website, search for or buy something, use social media or send an email. Sharing data helps make life easier, more convenient and connected. But your data is your data. It belongs to you so it’s important your data is used only in ways you would reasonably expect, and that it stays safe. Data protection law makes sure everyone’s data is used properly and legally.

As an organisation that processes data on our own behalf and also for clients (for example for email marketing databases), we are registered with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). Good information handling makes good business sense. You’ll enhance your business’s reputation, increase customer and employee confidence, and by making sure personal information is accurate, relevant and safe, save both time and money.  You can download and view our certificate here.

So if you are a SME business owner or marketing manager/director, how do you know if you need to register and how much does it cost?

Generally, under the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018, individuals and organisations that process personal data (for example, retail sites collecting customer data for orders, most small businesses with customer databases, even sole traders) need to pay a data protection fee to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), unless they are exempt. Exempt organisations include Members of the House of Lords, elected representatives and prospective representatives (including police and crime commissioners), for example.

Usually, you’ll receive a letter from the ICO about paying your data protection fee. But by going through the following questions you will be able to decide if you – as an individual or on behalf of your business or organisation – need to pay a fee to the ICO. Take the Quiz here.

You can complete the registration form (you need to do it all at once and it takes about 15 minutes) here. There’s a calculator on the same page that you can use to see how muich you will pay. The cost of your data protection fee depends on your size and turnover. There are three tiers of fee ranging from £40 and £2,900, but for most organisations it will be £40 or £60. The payment is always VAT nil.

Some organisations only pay £40 regardless of their size and turnover. These are: Charities and small occupational pension schemes.