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Getting started as a bookkeeper

Good day to all of you, I am in need of some advice following a headache brought on by my many confusing forums threads and 'advice' pages on the internet. 

I am considering setting myself up as a self-employed bookkeeper in addition to my full time employment as an accounts preparation assistant which entails working on preparing accounts and tax returns, along with providing bookkeeping and advice on it as well. 

I am looking at preparing books and records for small businesses and I am a little unsure as to whether or not I need to register with HMRC for Money Laundering Regulations, which at 110 pounds for the year does come across as rather off-putting as I'm not sure if I shall even be making that much money in a year of trading. 

I do have other questions and I can provide more information about the bookkeeping I am going to be running if it is needed.

Many thanks in advance!



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04th Mar 2012 10:58

Going into business

Unfortunately you must register with HMRC for money laundering purposes if you aren't a member of a professional body, which I assume you aren't. If you are going to be doing book-keeping as a self employed person and not contracting to an accountant, there is no way out of this one.

You should consider taking out Professional Indemnity insurance, but might find it very expensive as there would probably be a minimum charge.

Have you checked your contract with your current employer to see whether it allows you to work in a separate capacity like this? Are you likely to be competing with your employer if you do? Both these matters are very important to check out as you could find yourself in court if you aren't careful.

There are lots of things to think about when going into business, but AccountingWeb is the place for you to ask questions. Just look back through the answers to questions asked over the last year - that should help you a lot.

Good Luck.


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04th Mar 2012 11:01

Yes you need to register


See the attached link from HMRC website...

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By SteveOH
04th Mar 2012 11:03

You will need to register

Not quite sure what you mean by: "as I'm not sure if I shall even be making that much money in a year of trading".

Surely, even if you only started off with one client, your profit will cover the £110 registration fee many times over. Unless, I have completely misunderstood the question.

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By GWK1985
04th Mar 2012 11:10

The issue regarding my employers is something that I am aware of and need to discuss with them, however when I do I want to go in with all my bases covered and with as much information about what I am going to do as possible, hence my coming to the font of wisdom of Accounting Web :-)

I am expecting to work for small businesses like builders and plumbers, low cash flow based operations, which is why I say I'm expecting a low turnover. I don't think I would be covering businesses which have much in the way of payroll either. Like I say, small scale stuff really. 

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04th Mar 2012 11:57


What will you be charging?

How will your charges be less than £110? Even if your charges are less then you will still have to register.

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By rslosek
04th Mar 2012 15:08


There is an exemption of the fee for under £700 turnover. I don't have a link, sorry.

However my own view is that this is aimed at people doing the books for friends and family. For example, the wife of the sole trader still has to register even if s/he is doing it for free or not for profit or as a business. 

You have to register. I suggest you ring them up and say you won't be having a turnover of much more than a few hundred. If you're lucky, you will not have to pay. Since you are intending to do this for profit though, I doubt you'll escape.

It's cheap in comparison to the ICO/DPA regulations, which while only £35 per premises, the cost of the software - and the backups you need to do etc - are much more than £110.

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04th Mar 2012 16:08


I don't know of any exemption.

Are you getting confused with the ID requirement for sending money abroad greater than £700.

I can't see the point of have a yearly turnover exemption regarding £700.

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By rslosek
04th Mar 2012 17:41

I read it in a professional forum and I don't have the link as it wasn't necessary for me to check the accuracy/bookmark for my own purposes.

I can see the point of it. The hundreds doing anyone's books who isn't part of the company or the sole trader themselves (e.g. the spouse or friend of the business owner) HAS to register for MLR even if it's not a business, not done for profit, or done for any fee. In that case, given the due diligence they will need to do, waiving the fee seems reasonable. Whether or not people in this case even know they need to register is another point entirely.

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04th Mar 2012 18:16


I was led to believe that the fee is for the admin required by HMRC. So, except for the banking of the cheque there's no difference in admin for any size of turnover. Anyway, I don't see any information of any exemption by turnover and I don't think there is one.

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04th Mar 2012 21:07

Spouses, friends etc

The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 provide at reg 3(1) that "these Regulations apply to the following persons acting in the course of business carried on by them in the United Kingdom" and at reg 3(7) " 'External accountant' means a firm or sole practitioner who by way of business provides accountancy services to other persons, when providing such services".

So I don't believe that the MLR apply to spouses or friends who simply help out - because they are not providing anything "by way of business".

If however an accountancy / bookkeeping business provides some free help to, for example, a local charity I believe that help is provided "by way of business" although free of charge.

Similarly a report of a suspicion under s330 PoCA 2002 is required where various conditions are met, one of which is that the suspicion is based on information which came to the accountant / bookkeeper "in the course of a business in the regulated sector".  So again I don't believe that obligation arises on spouses and friends who help out.  (But there are additional reporting requirements in Scotland, under other legislation, which can oblige, for example, a spouse to report suspicions of criminal activity although (s)he is not in business.)


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07th Mar 2012 11:18

(Off topic) Have the MLR been useful?

Straying off topic....

As a matter of interest, does anyone know if there are statistics showing whether the MLR have actually achieved anything useful in the way of reduced crime etc? Or are they another clever idea that ticks a politicians box but doesn't affect the non-law abiding?

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By birdman
07th Mar 2012 11:35


To determine the success of the regulations, you'd need to know how much crime would have been committed were it not for the regulations, and I don't think that can be calculated ;)

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07th Mar 2012 13:52


birdman wrote:

To determine the success of the regulations, you'd need to know how much crime would have been committed were it not for the regulations, and I don't think that can be calculated ;)

That would be the ideal situation but I think a lot could be gained from looking at the relevant statistics from the last few years crime figures.

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07th Mar 2012 12:07

The GoodEnglish Professor's hackles rise (again)..

..when I see MLR - I think Minimum Lending Rate.  Please DON'T use initial letters in this forum, as they mean different things to different readers.

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07th Mar 2012 12:29

yes and trade as a limited company so when it goes wrong you dont lose your house

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07th Mar 2012 12:34


Professor should there not be a space between "good" and "English". Please don't leave out spaces in this forum.

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07th Mar 2012 13:16

GoodEnglish or Good English?

Good (space) English intimates a NATIONALITY (A Good Professor from England)

therefore Good(no space)English intimates that it is Good English (as in Language) being used


Game Over 


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07th Mar 2012 18:57


MartinLevin wrote:

Good (space) English intimates a NATIONALITY (A Good Professor from England)

therefore Good(no space)English intimates that it is Good English (as in Language) being used


Game Over 


... of course it doesn't, Good(no space)English means absolutely nothing, and Good (space) English doesn't intimate a nationality at all... maybe you need a few more lessons MartinLevin (there should be a space after Martin too).

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By Bonners
07th Mar 2012 12:42

Hackles !

LOL !!!!

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By birdman
07th Mar 2012 12:59


Words can also have more than one meaning, it's not just initials; the trick is to read them in context, then all should become clear!

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07th Mar 2012 16:41

good engwish

MLR would be taken in the context of the thread which was about Money Laundering.

does LOL mean Laughing it loud or lots of love or is that lol


What !

I understand that children's names are appearing on birth certificates in txt format rather than the traditional spelling...perhaps we can expect to see the companies act re written next year in a form more simple to the tax credit baby boom generation.

Dear Prof

I tink ur days is numbered as we's all expected to be simple now !

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08th Mar 2012 13:08


Have you boys got no work to do...go bill a client and stop it you are all good at numbers, if you were good (at) english you would be a lawyer ( allegedly)

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11th Mar 2012 16:46

Registering with the HMRC / new business


Well GWK1985 I hope that you have found this thread useful.  

I read the HMRC guidelines when starting self employment and it was confusing to me - the flow chart that they have on that section on the website seems to indicate that it seems to be OK to just be a member of a professional body if you are giving tax advice but for all other financial activities you also have to register with HMRC!  I would suggest that you call their help line a call and hope that you get a sympathetic person to talk you through it.  

I know that it may seem that all you do when starting out is pay other people (registering fees for HMRC, professional body fees, PL ins etc) but surely that helps to give your prospective clients the assurance that they have a competent person handling their affairs?  

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