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Licensing regimes

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Accuracy - Licensing laws are complex and change from time to time.
So some items listed below may be inaccurate (we're not lawyers) or become out of date.  Don't treat the list as authoritative.


To understand the issues concerning the licensing of charitable house-to-house collections (and enforcement), we found it useful to look also at other licensing regimes.  Although the activities controlled by other regimes can be very different (eg pet shops, casinos) there are strong parallels between them.  Problems and solutions in one regime are often relevant to other regimes.  Accordingly we give below an annotated rough-and-ready list (table) of some of these licensing regimes.

The list below only gives a small selection of licensing regimes.

Type of applicant - an organisation or an individual ?

Most licensing regimes involve licensing of organisations (eg businesses) - not individuals.

Licensing by government or non-government ?

The focus of this list is licensing regimes operated by government.

In general, we've excluded licensing regimes operated by non-government organisations - eg private/commercial law arrangements.  A good example is intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, registered designs and patents).  Typical features of these non-government regimes :

Different terms used

The term "licensing" is used here to indicate the need for permits, permissions, consents, certificates, registration etc, as well as "licences".  The names used are different, but the principles are usually the same.

The "licensor" is the organisation granting the licence.
The "licensee" is the organisation (or person) wanting the licence (eg a pub landlord).

This is the same principle as pairs of words like :

c or s?


In British English:

Never let it be said that CharityBags is pedantic.

Registers of licences

In most cases the licensing body is required to keep a list of licences.  Often this is called a register.  In many cases the list is available for public inspection, especially if it relates to organisations (rather than individuals).  A typical register lists :

See also our page on Registers of charitable collection licences.


Some licensing regimes require the applicant to publicise their application (so that people can comment on it before the decision is made) - hence the proliferation of small notices regarding applications which can be found in local newspapers.

Displaying licences

Some licensing regimes require the holder of the licence to display it or mention it - eg :

Types of licence

Charges / fees


Duration of licences

Revocation (withdrawal) of licences

Many types of licence allow the licensing authority to terminate the licence unilaterally (=revocation) - eg if the licensee acts improperly.

List of some licensing regimes (A-Z) - table


The column below headed "I" means Individual :

"LA" indicates local authority (ie local council).
"LAL" indicates local authority licensing department.
Items in italics have been discontinued (or are proposals).

See also the section further down this page on the Institute of Licensing.
This has an A-Z list of 50 or so local authority licensing regimes.

Category (A-Z) I Licensing agency / comments
Broadcasting (radio, TV)    
Broadcasting (amateur radio) i  
Caravan sites   LA
Charities   Charity Commission (registration)
Charities Acts
Charitable collections - house-to-house   1.  LAL (the police if it's in London), or
2.  Cabinet Office (National Exemption Orders =NEOs).
Called a 'licence'
Charitable collections - street   LAL (the police if it's in London).
Called a 'permit'
Companies   Companies House (Cardiff) (registration)
Companies Acts
Credit   Licence from Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
Credit - Pawnbrokers   Licence from Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
Development - Building Control i LA. Application of the 'Building Regulations'. Eg structure, drains, insulation
Development - Planning i LA, DCLG, Planning Inspectorate. "Consents"/"permissions". Town and Country Planning Acts (TCPAs)
Dog i Discontinued in 1980s
Driving i DVLA (Swansea)
Employment agencies    
Fishing (inland) i Water companies, British Waterways (canals), etc
Gambling - Betting offices    
Gambling - Bingo clubs   Certificate from Gaming Board & annual licence from magistrates 
Gambling - Casinos   Certificate from Gaming Board & annual licence from magistrates 
Gambling - Gaming machines - small prize   LA or licensing justice - permit 
Gambling - Lotteries and raffles   Gaming Board or LA
Game (selling of)   Pheasants etc
Goods vehicle operator's licence   Traffic Commissioner's Office
Guns - firearms i Police.  Eg handguns, rifles. Certificate
Guns - shotguns i Police.  Eg farmers
Information handling (especially personal records)   Registration with the Information Commissioner =ICO (Data Protection Acts)
Liquor (selling of) = wines & spirits   England & Wales: Was magistrates; LAL from 24 Nov 2005 (Licensing Act 2003)
Marriage I LA - Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Medical - various    
Minicabs   +see taxis
Pet shops   LAL
Pharmacists (chemists' shops)   Royal Pharmaceutical Society of GB
Private investigators (proposal)    
Probate (Grant of Probate, =GOP) (following a death) i Probate Registry
(part of HM Courts & Tribunals Service)
Radio receiver i Discontinued around 1980
Sex shops    
Taxis   LAL. +see minicabs
Television (owner of) i TV Licensing Authority =TVLA (Bristol)
Vehicles - registration i DVLA (Swansea)
Vehicles - tax disc i DVLA (Swansea)
Vehicles - MoT tests i Garages (certificate)
Waste disposal (commercial)   Environment Agency (EA)
Waste skips (placed on the public highway) i  
Wheel clampers (clamping vehicles on private land)   SIA
Zoos and wildlife parks   LAL

On a less serious note (if we dare), see Wikipedia   for the story of the apocryphal fish licences and cat licences featured on 'Monty Python's Flying Circus' (BBC) - including cat detection vans.

Three types of government licensing agencies

As you can see from the list (table) above, there are three types of government licensing organisations or departments :

1.  'Specialist' government agencies which deal with all aspects of an activity - including licensing.  Examples:

2.  Specialist government agencies which just deal with the licensing aspect of one activity.  These are uncommon.  Examples:


3.  Local council licensing departments (LDs).
About 300 councils in England and Wales have these departments.  They're the district councils and unitary councils.  These licensing departments are unique - they just do licensing - but they license an extraordinarily wide range of miscellaneous activities.  See the section on the Institute of Licensing below for a list of some of these activities.  These activities include Charitable house-to-house collections (and charitable street collections).

As far as we know, more or less ALL the licensing regimes dealt with by council licensing departments relate to organisations (eg businesses) - not to individuals.  This helps explain why so few people know about council licensing departments, and (in particular) licensing of charitable house-to-house collections (under the 1939 Act).

The Institute of Licensing (IoL)

Established in 2003, this is the professional body for local government licensing officers (in other words, staff working in the licensing departments of local councils).  It's a registered charity.  The Institute's website   has a wealth of information on licensing, including house-to-house collections and street collections.

A-Z list of licensing regimes on the website of the Institute of Licensing

There's a useful popup A-Z list of licensing regimes on the website of the Institute: www.InstituteOfLicensing.org    Below is a copy of their list as at November 2008 (our thanks to the Institute).  There are 54 items - comprising an extraordinarily broad range of human activities.

In general the list only covers the licensing regimes which are dealt with by local council licensing departments.  So it excludes (a) local council town planning, waste disposal etc, and (b) non-council regimes.

We've added some explanatory notes to the list below - in [square brackets].
We've highlighted charitable house-to-house collections and street collections below.
We've colour-coded items as follows :

Adult Gaming Centres
Amusements with Prizes
Animal Boarding Establishments
Betting Shops
Betting Tracks
Camping Sites
Canal Boats
Caravan Sites
Charities for Disabled Persons and War Charities
Consumer Credit Licences
Common Lodging Houses
Dangerous Wild Animals
Dog Breeding
Door Supervisors [eg clubs, pubs]
Family Entertainment Centres
Filling Materials
Food Premises
Hackney Carriages
House to House Collections [charitable]
Houses in Multiple Occupation
Late Night Refreshment Premises
Marriage Premises
Milk Distributors, Dairies and Dairymen
Motor Salvage Operators
Nurseries and Child Minders
Performing Animals
Pet Shops
Pleasure Boats
Pool Promoters [gambling]
Private Hire Vehicles
Private Members' Clubs
Regulated entertainment venues
Residential Homes
Riding Establishments
Scrap Metal Dealers
Sex Establishments
Slaughterhouses, Knackers' Yards and Cutting Premises
Sports Grounds
Street Collections  [charitable]
Street Trading
Vehicle Registration Plate Suppliers

National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers (NALEO)

NALEO logo (our thanks to NALEO)

See NALEO's website:  www.naleo.org.uk  

Extracts from their website - our thanks to NALEO :

"NALEO (The National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers) represents the interests of those responsible for licensing through the sharing of knowledge and information, close links with government bodies and civil servants, and by actively promoting and encouraging high standards and best practice."

"NALEO was created in 1985 by 22 local authority licensing and enforcement officers from across the UK.  Collectively identifying the need to promote a better understanding of taxi and private hire licensing matters - and the challenges of working in isolation - membership currently stands at over 550+, providing a valuable and powerful voice with which to raise the profile of licensing from the position of the regulators and licensing professionals.

The association's interests have long since grown to embrace all aspects of licensing as undertaken by Local and Public authorities, from LA2003, street trading, pet shops and motor salvage operators to gambling, tattoo and ear-piercing, sex establishments and cinemas."

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