Since June 2017, both UK and non-UK trusts which are liable to certain UK taxes (such as income tax, capital gains tax (CGT), inheritance tax (IHT), stamp duty land tax (SDLT) and stamp duty reserve tax) have been required to register their details with HMRC disclosing their beneficial owners. This register is not currently available to the public.
However, following the Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive which was passed by the EU on 9 July 2018, the scope of the UK trust register will need to be extended from 2020. In particular the trust register must (by 10 March 2020) include all UK resident express trusts and all non-EU resident trusts which own UK real estate or that have a business relationship with an entity obliged to carry out customer (anti money laundering) due diligence in the UK, such as a bank, estate agent, accountant, or solicitors. This will require many more trusts (and offshore trusts in particular) to be registered than at present.
In addition the register is likely to be publicly available to anyone who can demonstrate a legitimate interest, although the precise scope of the level of access is not yet known. The Government has indicated that these changes will go ahead, regardless of the terms of Brexit and will begin consulting on the exact details later in the year.