State aid: guidance

Guidance to help public sector bodies to understand and comply with state aid rules.

Please be aware, as of 01 January 2021, the EU State aid information on these pages is no longer applicable in the UK and should be used for reference only.


If your policy or project proposals involve state aid that cannot be awarded under the existing approved schemes or the General Block Exemption Regulation, but scope potentially exists to award the aid you wish to provide, you may submit a notification to the Commission for its approval.

An outline of the stages involved in this process is provided below - the most important of which is to contact the State Aid Unit early on to discuss the way forward.

Notification and approval procedure


Consider whether a policy or project proposal involves state aid.


Where no appropriate scheme exists (approved or under the General Block Exemption Regulation), make early contact with the State Aid Unit to discuss the way forward. Notification of a new State aid scheme or amendments to an existing scheme may be possible.


Prepare the formal pre-notification (standard format) in liaison with the State Aid Unit.


Pre-notification is submitted from the State Aid Unit to the UK Government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (DBIS), onto UK Permanent Representation in Brussels, and then to the Commission.


Commission considers the proposals - in virtually all cases they will seek further information.


Commission invite a formal Notification then approve or reject the proposal. The Commission may have imposed conditions where a scheme is approved.

Key points to remember:

1. Aid cannot be given until final approval has been received from the Commission.

2. The Commission will take a minimum of six months (current average is greater than six months) from initial receipt of the notification to make a decision. The time taken depends on additional information requested and the speed of response. Exceptionally, some approvals have taken two years.

3. The State Aid Unit will provide assistance at each stage of this process.

Back to top