Referral to ICA

This page was last updated on 2nd December 2022

Independent Complaints Assessors review complaints made against the Department for Transport, its agencies and other bodies.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly or have received poor service from the Department for Transport (DfT) or one of its agencies or other bodies, you can ask for an Independent Complaints Assessor (ICA) to review your complaint.

The department uses the services of Independent Complaints Assessors, who are part-time and are not civil servants. They look at the issues, provide conclusions and recommend solutions. This is a free, independent and impartial service.

If you want to complain your first step should always be to go to DfT or the agency or body itself to handle the matter. ICAs are there to review the way that the department or agency handled your complaint following their final response.

How ICAs work

An ICA looks at whether the DfT or its agency or other body has:

  • handled your complaint appropriately
  • given you a reasonable decision

The ICA will need to see the letters and emails between you and the DfT, or the agency or body you’re complaining about. We aim to send this material to the ICA within 15 working days of you asking us to pass your complaint to them.

The ICA will decide how best to deal with your case and will then contact you direct. They will usually contact you by email or post. They may want to speak to you by telephone to check facts.

It’s important you let us know if you change address or email or have a new phone number whilst your complaint is with an ICA.

When the ICA has reviewed your complaint, they will write to you with details of what they’ve decided. Their letter will explain what to do if you have any further concerns.

The ICA will aim to review your case within 3 months. They’ll tell you if they expect it to take longer.

What they can look at

The ICA can look at complaints about:

  • bias or discrimination
  • unfair treatment
  • poor or misleading advice
  • failure to give information
  • mistakes
  • unreasonable delays
  • poor administration
  • inappropriate staff behaviour

What they cannot look at

An ICA cannot look at complaints about:

  • legislation
  • government, departmental or agency policy
  • matters where only a court, tribunal or other body can decide the outcome
  • legal proceedings that have already started and will decide the outcome
  • an ongoing investigation or enquiry
  • personnel and disciplinary decisions or actions as an employer

An ICA can’t review your complaint if it’s being or has been investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. They can’t usually look at any complaint that:

  • hasn’t completed all stages of an organisation’s complaints process
  • is more than 6 months old from the date of the final response from the department or agency

How do you contact the Independent Complaints Assessor

We don’t provide general contact information because it’s important to go through DfT, agency or other body you have been dealing with so they can try to resolve the matter first.

If you are unhappy with our final response to your complaint you can then tell us that you want to have your complaint reviewed by an ICA. Once the ICA has received your details they will contact you to advise you whether they think they’re able to review your complaint. They’ll provide you with their contact details, and ask you for any further information they need.

Which DfT agencies does the ICA cover?

You can find out more about the complaints procedures of the DfT and our agencies, which are currently covered by the ICA:

Data protection and personal information

If you would like a copy of personal information held about you by an ICA send your request in writing for the attention of the Data Protection Officer at:

The Independent Complaints Assessor
Administration Team 4/33-35
Department for Transport
33 Horseferry Road

You will need to supply the following information:

  • full name
  • full address
  • national insurance number
  • a description of the information you require

Please don’t send your request by email. You won’t be charged for this service.


The DfT ICA is committed to providing the best possible service to complainants. We welcome feedback, which will help us to improve the quality of our service. These views are important to us and ensure that the high standard we aim to reach is being achieved.