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Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities or ‘UCITS’ is a European Union regime for retail investment funds and their fund management companies.  It first came into being via a European Directive in 1985 and has gone through several iterations since - we are now up to UCITS V.

Being a regime for retail investor funds, UCITS contains detailed rules on eligible assets, diversification and transparency.  In addition, UCITS closely regulates the operation of funds management companies and depositaries. The quid pro quo for subjecting a fund to the rigours of the UCITS regime is the EU passport.  UCITS funds and UCITS fund management companies authorised in one EU Member State are entitled to passport their activities into all other EU Member States without needing to go through a new authorisation process in the host EU Member State.

What rules and guidance make up the

EU UCITS Rulebook?

UCITS Directive

The UCITS Directive is the cornerstone of the UCITS regime.  It sets out the principles that apply to the regulation of UCITS funds, UCITS fund management companies and UCITS depositaries.  The current UCITS Directive (known as UCITS IV) dates from 2009 and it has been amended a number of times since it was first introduced.  Most notably, it was amended by UCITS V in 2014.


The amending UCITS Directives need to be read together with the UCITS IV Directive in order to understand the current rules applicable to UCITS funds, UCITS management companies and UCITS depositaries in the EU.


The Aquest Linked Rulebooks contains a consolidated version of the EU UCITS Regulations which consolidates subsequent amendments into the UCITS IV Directive.

European UCITS Regulations

The UCITS Directive is supplemented by a number of supporting European Directives and Regulations.  These are known as ‘Level 2’ and provide more detail to the principles set out in the Level 1 UCITS Directive.  For example, there are Level 2 UCITS Directives Regulations on UCITS Eligible Assets, the Key Investor Information Document and the Obligations of Depositaries.  


At European Level, there is a bespoke legislation designed specifically for EU money market funds.  The EU Money Market Fund regulations apply to all money market funds domiciled, marketed or managed in the European Union.  Where a money market fund is established as a UCITS, both the UCITS regime and the EU Money Market Regulations apply.


The European Securities and Markets Authority is the European Supervisory Authority with responsibility for investment funds.  As part of fulfilling this role, ESMA issues guidance on a number of matters concerning the UCITS regime.  


In addition to guidance, ESMA has also issued opinions on matters of importance to the UCITS regime e.g. UCITS share classes.  In order to understand fully how to interpret and apply provisions of the UCITS Directive and Regulations, it is important to know what ESMA has said via its guidance and opinions.




One of ESMA’s objectives is to promote supervisory convergence.  In pursuit of this objective, EMSA is committed to being transparent and open in the way that it works.  This includes being transparent regarding how it answers questions it has been asked. As a result, instead of answering individual questions privately, ESMA publishes UCITS Q&As so that all stakeholders are aware of ESMA’s views on a matter.


ESMA’s UCITS Q&A document is updated on a periodic basis as and when new Q&As are added.  It is a useful source of guidance and the Central Bank will expect that firms are aware of ESMA’s UCITS Q&A’s contents before engaging with it. 

Aquest Linked Rulebooks

The Aquest Linked EU UCITS Rulebook brings together in one location all UCITS rules and UCITS guidance specific to the UCITS funds, UCITS management companies and UCITS depositaries.  The Aquest Linked EU UCITS Rulebook includes individual documents ranging from legislation to guidance and Q&As which have been seamlessly and comprehensively linked so that you can navigate easily from a rule to supplementary rules, guidance and Q&As or vice versa.


The EU UCITS Rulebook has also been linked to the Irish UCITS Rulebook so that users can easily identify, for example, how a European rule has been transposed into Irish law or whether there is any Irish guidance relevant to a rule set out in the EU UCITS Rulebook.

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