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Licences and other types of official permission

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only

Activity centres for young people

A licence is needed to run a centre providing the following activities for children and young people under 18:-

  • caving
  • climbing (including abseiling and scrambling activities, except on purpose-designed structures)
  • trekking (including walking, pony-trekking, mountain biking, off-piste skiing)
  • water sports.

Licences are issued by:-
Adventure Activities Licensing Authority
44 Lambourne Crescent
Llanishen
Cardiff
CF4 5GG
Tel: 029 2075 5715
Email: info@aals.org.uk 
Website: www.hse.gov.uk/aala

Acupuncture

A licence is required from the local authority before an acupuncturist can operate.

Airguns

It is an offence to own an air weapon with a self-contained gas cartridge without a certificate.

From 31 December 2016 it will be an offence to own or use any air weapon without the proper certificate or permit, unless you are exempt. You can apply to Police Scotland for a licence. More information is available from www.airweapon.scot.

Alcohol (sale of)

A voluntary organisation which wants to sell alcohol at an event must have a licence. Organisations which do not have a licence must apply to the local authority licensing board for an occasional licence which will permit the sale of alcohol at the event. There are limits to the number of occasional licences which can be issued to an organisation within a year. If a premises licence holder such as a hotel owner wants to sell alcohol outwith her/his licensed premises, for example at an outdoor event s/he must obtain an occasional licence.

You can object to alcohol licence applications and can apply for a review of an alcohol licence if you have grounds for complaint to the local authority licensing board.

For more information about alcohol licensing in your area contact your local authority licensing board.

Amateur radio

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 Radio Licensing
02-130 Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London
SE1 9HA
Website: www.ofcom.org.uk

Amusement machines

A permit or licence is needed. Application should be made to the local authority licensing board.

Animals

A licence from the local authority is required for individuals to keep certain dangerous wild animals at home.

Bingo clubs

In some cases, licensing or registration may be required. If bingo is played for entertainment rather than for private gain, members of the public may take part without any licensing or registration being required, provided that only one payment (of not more than £4) is made by each player as an entrance fee or stake and the total value of prizes distributed during the entertainment does not exceed £400. If these conditions are not fulfilled, a bingo club licence from the local authority licensing board, together with a certificate from the Gaming Board for Great Britain, or (in the case of members’ clubs) registration by the Sheriff Clerk's office, may in some cases be needed.

Business names

If you want to know whether a limited company is already using a particular name, you can find out by contacting the Companies House (see under heading Companies for address).

Butchers' shops

An annual licence costing £100 is required by butchers' shops selling unwrapped raw meat and ready to eat meat from the same premises. Premises that only sell raw meat do not need this type of licence. Contact your local authority or the Food Standards Agency at:-

St Magnus House
25 Guild Street
Aberdeen
AB11 6NJ
Tel: 01224 285100
Email: scotland@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.foodstandards.gov.uk

Caravan sites

Firstly, planning permission for use of the land as a caravan site must be obtained from the local authority, then a licence from the local authority (environmental health department) is required to operate a caravan site.

Car boot sales

A street trading licence from the local authority or planning permission is needed for sales held in a public place on a regular basis.

Care homes

Any care home must be regulated to national standards by the Care Inspectorate. See under heading Care Inspectorate

Care Inspectorate

The Care Inspectorate regulates all domiciliary and residential care services in Scotland. 

The Care Inspectorate
Compass House
Discovery Quay
Riverside Drive
Dundee
DD1 4XA
Tel: 0345 600 9527
Email: enquiries@careinspectorate.com
Website: www.careinspectorate.com

Catteries

A licence is required from the local authority.

Childminding and children's nurseries

Childminders who receive payment to look after children at home or anyone running a children's nursery or other daycare facility must be registered with the Care Inspectorate. See under heading Care Inspectorate for details.

Cigarettes

See under heading Tobacco products

Citizens’ band radio

The installation and use of all citizens’ band radio receivers must be authorised by an annual licence obtainable from the Radio Licensing Centre (see under heading Amateur radio for the address of the Centre).

Civil partnerships

Before a civil partnership registration can take place, each party must give notice at a register office in the area where the civil partnership is to be registered.

For more information, see Registering a civil partnership.

Companies

Information about how to register a new company can be obtained from:-

Companies House Contact Centre
Tel: 0303 123 4500 (Mon to Fri 8.30am to 6.00pm)
Minicom: 029 2038 1245
Email: enquiries@companies-house.gov.uk
Website: www.companieshouse.gov.uk

Consumer credit businesses

Authorisation or approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is needed to run many types of businesses which involve consumer credit, including a consumer credit business, a consumer hire business, credit brokerage, debt adjusting, pawnbroking, debt counselling and debt collecting. The address of the FCA is:-

25 The North Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5HS
Consumer helpline: freephone 0300 500 8082
Website: www.fca.org.uk

Debt collectors

Debt collectors are required to obtain authorisation or approval from the Financial Credit Authority. See under heading Consumer credit businesses for details.

Dog breeders

A dog breeder is anyone who keeps more than two breeding bitches. S/he requires a licence from the local authority.

Door supervisors (bouncers)

From 1 November 2007 it is illegal to work as a door superviser without a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. The address of the SIA is as follows:-

Security Industry Authority
PO Box 9
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
NE82 6YX
Tel: 08702 430 100
Fax: 08702 430 125
Website: www.the-sia.org.uk

Driving licences

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:-

DVLA Customer Enquiries (Drivers)
Swansea
SA6 7JL
Tel: 0870 240 0009
Textphone: 01792 766366
Fax: 0870 850 1285
Email: drivers.dvla@gtnet.gov.uk
Website: www.dvla.gov.uk

Application forms are available from post offices. 

Driving instructors

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
Stanley House
56 Talbot Street
Nottingham
NG1 5GU
Tel: 0115 901 2500
Website: www.dsa.gov.uk

Information can also be obtained from the local office at:-

Scottish Traffic Area Office
Argyle House
Lady Lawson Street
Edinburgh
EH3 9SE
Tel: 0131 200 4955
Fax: 0131 229 0682

Drones

There are rules in the UK that govern the flying of drones. In some circumstances, official permission to fly a drone must be obtained from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). For more information, see the CAA website at www.caa.co.uk. For more information on responsible drone use, see http://dronesafe.uk

e-cigarettes

See under heading Nicotine vapour products for details.

Employment agencies

Agencies must comply with the rules in the Employment Agencies Act 1973.

Entertainments in public

A licence from the local authority may be needed to hold any public entertainments, including music, dancing, art exhibitions, boxing or wrestling, whether or not an admission charge is made. Certain events may be exempt from the need for a licence. A local authority has the discretionary power to insist on a licence for a free-to-enter event when they consider it appropriate.

Entertainment (children and young people)

A licence is required where young people under school leaving age are to take part in any performance where a charge is made. School performances are exempt and so are performances which only involve performing for three days or less in a six month period.

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 (including an airgun with a self-contained gas cartridge) or ammunition must be covered by a firearms certificate granted by a local chief officer of police. Anyone dealing in firearms or ammunition must also apply for a certificate. See also Airguns.

Fireworks

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 special licence. You should apply to your local authority which may need to refer you to the Health and Safety Executive if you want to sell fireworks. For more information visit the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk.

If you want to hold an organised fireworks display, you will need to apply to your local authority for a dispensation. This will depend on the date and time of your display. If you are holding a display on Guy Fawkes night, Diwali or Chinese New Year you will need a licence to hold it but these are the times of year when fireworks are usually available to buy in general retail stores.

It is an offence to use fireworks after 11pm and before 7am without a dispensation except on permitted fireworks nights.

Fishing

Anyone who wants to fish in rivers or inland lochs needs the permission of the landowner; rights to salmon fishing may be owned separately from the land. No permission is needed for sea fishing, apart from salmon. Permits may be obtained from local angling clubs or fishing tackle shops.

Fruit machines

See under heading Amusement machines.

Foster homes

To become foster parents, you must first be registered and approved by the local authority social work department.

Fundraising events

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.

Gaming clubs

Registration by local authority licensing boards is required before gaming can take place in members’ clubs and miners' welfare institutes.

Guns

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. You must be aged 21 or over when you apply unless you are registered under a training scheme and are driving a vehicle owned by your registered employer or training establishment, in which case you must be at least 18 years old.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland

Any independent healthcare services must be registered and regulated by Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Edinburgh Office
Elliott House
8-10 Hillside Crescent
Edinburgh
EH7 5EA
Tel: 0131 623 4300
Textphone: 0131 623 4383
Website: www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org

Glasgow Office
Delta House
50 West Nile Street
Glasgow
G1 2NP
Tel: 0141 225 6999
Textphone: 0141 241 6316
Website: www.healthcareimprovementscotland.org

Homes

Children's homes, homes for disabled people, homes for people with learning difficulties, old people's homes, alcohol or drug recovery units must be registered with the Care Inspectorate. See under heading Care Inspectorate for details.

House to house collections

House to house collections must be authorised by a permit issued by the local authority.

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.

Hypnotism

Demonstrations of hypnotism for public entertainment must be licensed by the local authority.

Kennels

A licence from the local authority is required to run boarding kennels for cats or dogs, including kennels run from a private home.

Knives

Dealers of non-domestic knives, for example, hunting shops, must have a licence under the Scottish Knife Dealers’ Licence Scheme.

Lotteries or raffles

Anyone running a public lottery on behalf of a non-commercial organisation must be registered with the local authority. If the value of the tickets to be sold exceeds £20,000 or annual proceeds will be over £250,000, the lottery must be registered with the Gambling Commission. Their address is:-

Victoria Square House
Victoria Square
Birmingham
B2 4BP
Tel: 0121 230 6500
Fax: 0121 233 1096
Email: info@gamblingcommission.gov.uk
Website: www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk

If a lottery or raffle is only incidental to an entertainment, for example, a fete or dance, or a private society holds a lottery in which the sale of tickets is restricted to members of the society, registration is not required.

Market traders

Market traders in most areas require a licence from the local authority.

Marriage

Before a civil marriage ceremony can take place, each party must give notice in their local register office, where the Registrar will issue authority for the marriage to take place.

For more information, see Getting Married.

Metal detectors

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 If you find treasure or lost goods

Minibuses

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.

Minicabs

Minicabs are licensed by the local authority.

Model aircraft

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.

Musical performances

A licence from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) is needed to play copyright music in public. Licences are issued to the owners of the premises at which the performance takes place. The address of the PRS is:-

29/33 Berners Street
London
W1P 4AA
Tel: 020 7580 5544

In addition, if the performance is of recorded music, for example, a tape or CD, a licence must be obtained from Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL). The address of PPL is:-

1 Upper James Street
London
W1F 9DE
Tel: 0207 7534 1000

Nicotine vapour products

Nicotine vapour products such as e-cigarettes allow the user to inhale vapour that contains nicotine, also called 'vaping'.

From 1 October 2017, if you are a retailer and sell nicotine vapour products as part of your business you must be registered on the Scottish Register of Tobacco and Nicotine Vapour Product Retailers. If you are already registered to sell tobacco products, you must update the register to allow you to sell both types of product. Registration is free and can be done online from 1 April 2017 at www.tobaccoregisterscotland.org.

Pawnbrokers

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.

Pet shops

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 such as in Scotland the Scottish SPCA on 01383 841 025.

Processions

Anyone intending to hold a public procession must give 28 days prior notice in writing to the local authority. The local authority may decide to ban or restrict the procession in some way. Organisers may appeal to the Sheriff in such a case.

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 under heading Driving licences.

Riding stables

Businesses which keep horses to hire out for riding and/or for riding instruction must be licensed by the local authority.

Raffles

See under heading Lotteries.

Road haulage

Road haulage operators must be licensed by the local traffic area office of the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). For more information, see www.gov.uk.

Rubbish skips

Written permission from the highway division of the local authority is needed for a skip to be placed on a public road, but otherwise no permission is needed.

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).

Street trading

See under heading Market traders.

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.

Taxis

Taxis and taxi drivers are licensed by the local authority.

TV (television) licences

Most people need to have a TV licence to watch TV. For more information about television sets and DVD or video recorders, see www.gov.uk/tv-licence and www.tvlicensing.co.uk.

Tobacco products

If you are a retailer and sell tobacco products as part of your business you must be registered on the Scottish Register of Tobacco and Nicotine Vapour Product Retailers. Registration is free and can be done online at www.tobaccoregisterscotland.org.

It is a criminal offence for retailers, other than specialist tobacconists, to openly display cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco for sale. These products may be covered by screens so they are not visible to the public. 

You can report the display of tobacco products to Trading Standards. Retailers who commit this offence will be issued with a fixed penalty notice. Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice could result in court action being taken to recover the fine. 

Tree felling

If a tree is on your own property, you can usually cut it down unless the tree is in a preservation area or covered by a tree preservation order when separate permission is needed. In these cases a Forestry Commission licence would be required to fell trees. For more information about felling licences, see www.forestry.gov.uk or contact the commission at:-

Forestry Commission Scotland
Silvan House
231 Corstorphine Road
Edinburgh
EH12 7AT
Tel: 0845 367 3787 (general enquiries)
Fax: 0131 314 6152
Email: fcscotland@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
Web: www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

Waste disposal sites

The licensing of waste disposal sites is the responsibility of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. For more information, contact:-

SEPA Corporate Office
Erskine Court
Castle Business Park
Stirling
FK9 4TR
Tel: 01786 457700
Fax: 01786 446885
Website: www.sepa.org.uk

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