Why is this important?
Licences and other types of official permission
This information applies to England and Wales
- Activity centres for young people
- Alcohol (sale of)
- Amateur radio
- Amusement machines
- Beauty specialist
- Bingo clubs
- Business names
- Caravan sites
- Car boot sales
- Childminding and childrens’ nurseries
- Citizens’ band radio
- Civil partnerships
- Consumer credit businesses
- Debt collectors
- Dog breeders
- Driving licences
- Driving instructors
- Entertainments in public
- Film and video shows
- Firearms and ammunition
- Fruit machines
- Fundraising events
- Gaming clubs
- Heavy goods vehicle drivers
- House to house collections
- Hunting and selling game
- Lotteries or raffles
- Market traders
- Metal detectors
- Model aircraft
- Motor salvage operators
- Music licensing
- Night cafes
- Nursing and residential homes
- Pedlars and hawkers
- Pet shops
- Public service vehicles
- Riding stables
- Road haulage
- Rubbish skips
- Scrap metal dealers
- Sex establishments
- Street collections
- Street trading
- Sunday trading
- Taping at home
- Tattoo parlours
- Television licences
- Tree felling
- Waste disposal sites
Activity centres for young people
A licence is needed to run a centre providing the following activities for children and young people under 18:-
- Climbing (including abseiling and scrambling activities, except on purpose-designed structures)
- Trekking (including walking, pony-trekking, mountain biking, off-piste sking)
- Water sports.
Licences are issued by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, 17 Lambourne Crescent, Llanishen, Cardiff CF4 5GS. Tel: 029 2075 5715. Website: www.aala.org.uk.
Alcohol (sale of)
Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for a temporary event notice for a one-off event involving the sale of alcohol. Applications should be made to your local authority.
An amateur radio licence must be obtained from the Radio Licensing Centre, PO Box 885, Bristol BS99 5LF, Tel: 0117 925 8333, website: www.radiolicencecentre.co.uk. A practical training course, and/or an examination, must be undertaken before a licence is issued. There are different types of amateur licence. For more information, contact: Ofcom, Amateur and Citizens Band Radio Licensing, 02-130 Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA, website: www.ofcom.org.uk.
A licence from the local authority is required for individuals to keep certain dangerous wild animals at home.
In some areas, you will need to register with the environmental health department of your local authority if you are offering certain beauty treatments.
If someone wants to know whether a limited company in England or Wales is already using a particular name, s/he can find out by contacting the Companies Registration Office (see under heading Companies for address).
A licence from the local authority (environmental health department) is needed to operate a caravan site. Planning permission from the local authority is needed before a licence can be issued.
Car boot sales
A street trading licence from the local authority or planning permission may be needed for sales held in a public place and/or on a regular basis.
Childminding and childrens’ nurseries
Childminders who look after children at home, together with anyone running a children's nursery or other day-care facility must be registered with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) in England, or, in Wales, with the Welsh Government's Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). For more information, contact Ofsted on 08456 404 045 or CSSIW on 01443 848450.
Citizens’ band radio
The installation and use of all citizens’ band radio receivers must be authorised by an annual licence which can be obtained from the Radio Licensing Centre (see under heading Amateur radio for the address of the Centre).
Before a civil partnership registration can take place, each party must give notice at a register office in the area of the local authority where they live.
For more information, see Registering a civil partnership.
Information about how to register a new company can be obtained from
Consumer credit businesses
A licence from the Office of Fair Trading is needed to run many types of businesses which involve consumer credit, including a consumer credit business, a consumer hire business, credit brokerage, debt management, pawnbroking, debt counselling and debt collecting. The address of the OFT is Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8JX. Tel: 08457 224499. Website: www.oft.gov.uk.
Debt collectors are required to obtain a licence from the Office of Fair Trading (see under heading Consumer credit businesses for details).
A dog breeder is anyone who keeps more than two breeding bitches. S/he requires a licence from the local authority.
A driving licence is needed to drive most vehicles on the public road. Licences are issued by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The address of the Agency is Customer Enquiries (Drivers) Unit, Swansea SA6 7JL. Tel: 0870 240 0009. Application forms are available from the DVLA and from post offices.
For more information, see Driving Licences.
Anyone who gives professional paid instruction in driving a vehicle must be registered as an Approved Driving Instructor or hold a trainee’s licence to give instruction. Further information and driving instructor starter packs are available from the Driving Standards Agency Customer Service Centre, PO Box 280, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE99 1FP. Tel: 0300 200 1122 to apply in English or 0300 200 1133 to apply in Welsh.
Entertainments in public
A licence from the local authority is needed to hold any public entertainments, including music, dancing, boxing or wrestling, whether or not an admission charge is made. Certain events may be exempt from the need for a licence. The licensing of public entertainments in London is subject to separate statutory controls. On Sundays, there can be no admission fee to public dances.
Pubs and clubs that sell alcohol, and workplaces, don’t need a licence to host amplified live music acts between 8am and 11pm in venues for under 200 people.
Live unamplified music can also be played between 8am and 11pm in any venue of any size without a licence.
Film and video shows
Subject to certain exceptions, premises may not be used for the public showing of films or videos unless they are licensed by the local authority. There is an exemption for premises used less than six days a year and for showings conducted by non-commercial organisations, which are covered by an exemption certificate.
Firearms and ammunition
In most cases, anyone wishing to possess, buy or acquire a firearm (other than an airgun) or ammunition must be covered by a firearms certificate granted by a chief officer of police. Anyone dealing in firearms or ammunition must also apply for a certificate.
Fireworks are regarded as explosives. There are strict rules about what fireworks can be sold and who they can be sold to. Suppliers who store fireworks all year round must have a licence. You should apply to your local authority, which may need to refer you to the Health and Safety Executive. For more information, visit the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/fireworks/index.htm.
Anyone over the age of twelve who wishes to fish for salmon or other freshwater fish, including trout or eels, must have a rod licence issued by the Environment Agency (for further details, telephone the Environment Agency 03708 506 506) or Natural Resources Wales (for further details, telephone Natural Resources Wales 0300 065 300). Licences are also available from post offices and online at: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/fish. Permission from the landowner will be needed to fish in privately-owned waters or to cross private land. Permits can often be bought, giving the necessary authorisation.
The laws on fundraising are complex. A licence or some other form of permission may be needed for some activities. For more information, contact the Charity Commission’s Helpline on 0870 333 0123.
Gambling covers gaming, betting, lotteries and raffles. It includes amusement machines, casinos, bingo and remote gambling, for example, on the internet. A gambling business may need three categories of licence. These licences are called operating licences, personal licences and premises licences.
The Gambling Commission issues operating licences and personal licences. It also gives detailed information about gambling laws and policies. Its contact details are:
Victoria Square House
Birmingham B2 4BP
The local authority issues premises licences.
Non-commercial fundraising lotteries and raffles do not need licences but there are rules about how they should be conducted.
See under heading Firearms and ammunition.
Heavy goods vehicle drivers
A licence is required to drive a heavy goods vehicle. Licences are available from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Forms are available from the post office. An applicant must be aged 21 or over unless s/he is registered under a training scheme and is driving a vehicle owned by her/his registered employer or training establishment, in which case the minimum age is 18.
House to house collections
House to house collections must be authorised by a licence issued by the local authority or Metropolitan Police Commissioner, or by an order of exemption granted by the Home Office for a national collection, or by a certificate of exemption granted by a chief officer of police for some local collections.
Hunting and selling game
A game licence is needed to kill, take or sell game. Permission will also be needed from the landowner or anyone else who has hunting rights over the land.
Demonstrations of hypnotism for public entertainment must be licensed by the local authority.
A licence from the local authority is required to run boarding kennels for cats or dogs, including kennels run from a private home.
Lotteries or raffles
Market traders in most areas require a licence from the local authority, or the police.
Before a civil marriage ceremony can take place, each party must give notice in their local register office, where the Superintendent Registrar will issue authority for the marriage to take place.
For more information, see Getting married.
A licence is not needed to use a metal detector, but the landowner’s permission is needed to enter, search and/or dig on land.
For more information, see Keeping lost, found and uncollected goods.
If you are a driver of a minibus which can carry eight or more passengers, you may need a passenger carrying vehicle (PCV) entitlement added to your licence by the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You may not require this if the minibus is operated by one of certain non-commercial organisations under a permit issued by a designated body, or by a local authority or the area traffic commissioner.
For more information about licence requirements for driving minibuses, visit the DVLA's website at www.dvla.gov.uk/drivers/drivers.htm.
In areas outside London, minicabs are normally licensed by the local authority. In London, minicabs are licensed by Transport for London (TfL) at the Taxi and Private Hire Office. The contact details for the Taxi and Private Hire Office are:
Surface Transport Customer Services
197 Blackfriars Road
Telephone for licensing enquiries: 0845 602 7000
A licence is not required to use model aircraft or similar model-controlled equipment, but certain conditions must be complied with to avoid interference with other radio users.
Motor salvage operators
Motor salvage operators must register with their local authority and keep records of all vehicles sold and received.
If you play recorded music in public, that is to say, in any business context, you are legally required to get a PRS For Music and a PPL licence.
Any establishment where recorded music is played in public, whether CD, radio, TV, on telephone systems or the internet will require these two licences. This is not limited to premises where members of the general public have access such as pubs, shops, gyms, but also offices, factories and even the back room of a shop.
Even if you use your premises only for live performances, you will still be required to have a licence from PRS For Music.
You may obtain a PRS for Music licence from the Performing Rights Society Limited (PRS) For Music. The address of PRS is 29/33 Berners Street, London W1T 3AB. Tel: 0800 068 4828, website: www.prsformusic.com. You can obtain a PPL licence from Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). The address of PPL is 1 Upper James Street, London W1F 9DE. Tel: 020 7534 1000, website:www.ppluk.com.
An annual licence from the local authority is required for any premises (not including those which serve alcohol) which are open for public refreshment between 10pm and 5am. In some parts of London, the relevant hours are 11pm to 5am or midnight to 5am.
Nursing and residential homes
In England, nursing and residential care homes must be registered with the Commission for Social Care Inspection. You can contact them on 020 7979 2000 or visit their website at: www.csci.org.uk.
In Wales, nursing and residential care homes must be registered with the Welsh Government's Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW). You can contact them on 01443 848450.
See under heading Consumer credit businesses.
Pedlars and hawkers
Pedlars and hawkers who sell door to door may need an annual certificate granted by the chief officer of police in the applicant’s district. Some trades, for example, the sale of food, are exempt from the need for a licence.
A licence from the local authority (environmental health department) is required to open a pet shop. Complaints about the way animals are kept should be addressed to the licensing authority or to an animal welfare organisation, for example, the RSPCA.
Public service vehicles
A licence from the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is required to drive a large passenger-carrying vehicle.
For more information, see Driving licences.
Businesses which keep horses to hire out for riding and/or for riding instruction must be licensed by the local authority.
Road haulage operators must be licensed by the local traffic area office of VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency). For more information, see www.vosa.gov.uk.
Written permission from the Highway Authority is needed for a skip to be placed on a public road, but otherwise no permission is needed.
Local authorities may require premises which offer saunas and other forms of ‘special treatment’, for example, massages, steam baths, manicures, electrolysis or body piercing to be licensed.
Scrap metal dealers
Anyone dealing in scrap metal must be registered with her/his local authority (either the trading standards department or the environmental health department).
Local authorities have powers to require sex establishments in their area to be licensed. A sex establishment is a sex shop or sex cinema and, in parts of London, may also include a sex encounter establishment (not including private homes).
A licence issued by the local authority or Metropolitan police commissioner is required before a street collection can be held.
See under heading Market traders.
A shop with a floor area of 280 square metres or less can open on Sundays with no restrictions. If it has an area of more than 280 square metres, you must give notice to the local authority before you can open on Sundays. You must not open for more than six hours, beginning no earlier than 10am and ending no later than 6pm.
Taping at home
Home taping of TV or radio programmes to allow viewing or listening at a more convenient time is permitted by law. However, recording a broadcast for any other reason may be an infringement of copyright.
A licence from the local authority may be required to operate a tattoo parlour.
In most areas outside London, taxis and taxi drivers who ply for hire are licensed by the local authority. In London, licensing is undertaken by Transport for London 9TfL) at the Taxi and Private Hire Office. For the address of the Taxi and Private Hire Office, see under heading Minicabs.
Most people need to have a TV licence to watch TV.
For more information about television sets and DVD or video recorders, see Television licences.
A Forestry Commission licence may be required to fell trees. The address of the Commission is Silvan House, 231 Cortorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 7AT. Tel: 08453 673787.
Waste disposal sites
The licensing of waste disposal sites is the responsibility of:
- in England, the Environment Agency. For more information, contact the helpline on 03708 506 506 or go to their website at: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/waste
- in Wales Natural Resources Wales. For more information, contact the helpline on 0300 065 300 or go to their website at: www.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk