House-to-house Collections Licence

Regulation of charitable collections

Any person organising a house to house collection for charitable purposes must obtain either:

  1. a licence from the local authority for the area; or
  2. a national exemption order (in a case where collections for a charitable purpose are to be organised throughout the whole of England, or a substantial part of it) from the Minister for the Cabinet Office

Where a national exemption order has been granted, the requirements of the Act and Regulations apply in the same way as they do in cases where a licence has been granted by a local authority.

When is a licence or national exemption order necessary?

One of the above authorisations to collect money or goods for subsequent re-distribution or sale to benefit charitable purposes, is required if the collections are made by means of visits from door to door. This includes visits made to business premises (eg shops and public houses).

The above authorisations are not required if the following circumstances apply:

  1. the collections are taken in the streets or other places in the open-air (in this case a street collection permit is required).
  2. the collections are confined only to one premises and the collection receptacle is not later moved to other premises for the purpose of taking further collections. For example, collections taken in offices within the same workplace or building, would be exempt.
  3. the collections are taken by means of collecting tins or other sealed receptacles left in shops, public houses etc, for donation purposes.

Making an application

If you require a local authority licence, you can apply online or submit a postal application to the licensing service.

Applications for the grant of Home Office Exemption Orders should be addressed to the National Exemption Order Scheme, Office for Civil Society, Cabinet Office Blue Zone, 4th Floor, Deskbank 10, 1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ or email


Generally, these may be granted for a period of not more than 12 months.  However, this requirement may be relaxed in cases where the licensing authority wish to provide for the simultaneous expiration of licences in respect of annual collections or collections made continuously over a long period.

Licences may be granted in respect of the whole or part of an area but, where a collection covers more than one local authority area, a separate licence must be obtained from each local authority concerned.

A licensing authority may refuse to grant a licence, or, may revoke a licence already granted, for reasons set out in Section 2(3) of the Act. The main reasons for which a licence may be refused or revoked are:

  1. that it does not appear likely that an adequate proportion of the proceeds of the collection will be actually applied for charitable purposes.
  2. that excessive amounts of money are likely to be retained by any person out of the proceeds of the collection for use for purposes other than charitable purposes.
  3. that an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824 has been committed, or might be facilitated in connection with the collection.
  4. that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence by reason of a conviction for certain specific offences or for fraudulent or dishonest action.
  5. that the promoter has failed to act properly in certain specified matters which are required of that person.

Appeal against refusal or revocation

Any person aggrieved by the refusal to grant him or her a licence, or by the revocation of a licence already granted, may appeal to the Minister for the Cabinet Office against the decision within 14 days of the date of the notice of refusal or revocation, as shown on the notice.


The Promoter of the collection must provide each collector with:

  1. a Certificate of Authority, following the form set out in the Act which has been duly authenticated and signed by the Promoter. This Certificate must be produced, on demand, to any police constable or occupier of a house visited by the Collector.
  2. a Badge, following the form set out in the Act which gives a general indication of the purpose of the collection, to be signed by the collector and worn prominently when collecting.
  3. If money is to be collected, a Collecting Box or consecutively numbered counterfoils must be provided. The Collecting Box or Receipt Book, as the case may be, must be marked to show, clearly, the purpose for which the collection is being taken.
  4. In the case of licences issued by the local authority, an authority to obtain the required number of Certificates of Authority and Badges from Her Majesty's Stationery Office will be supplied with the Licence.

No person under the age of 16 years is permitted to act or be authorised to act as a collector of money.


The promoter of a collection must keep a record of Certificates of Authority, Badges, collection boxes and receipt books issued to collectors, and must ensure that every such Certificate, Badge collection box (with seal intact) and receipt book (with counterfoils duly completed) is returned to the promoter, or other authorised person when the collection is completed, or when the collector ceases to act as a collector.

Collecting boxes must be opened and examined in the presence of the promoter and another responsible person, or by an officer of a bank and receipt books must be examined and checked by the promoter and another responsible person.

Precise records of all moneys received or spent and of all articles collected and disposed of must be kept and detailed accounts, which must follow the form laid down in the 1939 Act, must be submitted to the appropriate Authority. Accounts to a Licensing Authority must be submitted within one month after the expiration of the Licence or within such extended period as the Authority may allow and these accounts must be certified by an independent auditor. Accounts to the Minister for the Cabinet must be furnished annually so long as the Order remains in force and final accounts must be furnished within three months of the revocation of the Order, or within such extended period as the Minister for the Cabinet may allow.