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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
Tel: 029 2075 5715


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


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 about air weapon licensing is on

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 their licensed premises, for example at an outdoor event, they 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:

Amateur Radio Licensing
02-130 Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road

Amusement machines

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


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
AB11 6NJ
Tel: 01224 285100

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
Tel: 0345 600 9527


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.


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.


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

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
E14 5HS
Consumer helpline: freephone 0300 500 8082

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. They require a licence from the local authority.

Door supervisors (bouncers)

It is illegal to work as a door supervisor without a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. The address of the SIA is as follows:

Security Industry Authority
PO Box 74957
E14 1UG


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). 

Vehicle Customer Services

SA99 1AR

Tel: 0300 790 6802
Textphone: 0300 123 1279
Fax: 0300 123 0798

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 about becoming a driving instructor is on the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency pages of the website.


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). There is more information on responsible drone use on the


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.

As well as local authority permission another licence may be required if music to be performed is still within copyright rules.

If the author/composer of the works performed is still alive or has been dead for less than 50 years permission is required. One licence is required called TheMusicLicence. You can get it from the new joint venture of the Performance Rights Society and the Phonographic Performance Ltd. There is more information about TheMusicLicence on the PPRPLS website.

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 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 need a special licence. If you want to sell fireworks, you should apply to your local authority which may need to refer you to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Find out more about selling fireworks on the HSE website

The general public can only use fireworks between 6pm and 11pm, except on:

  • 5 November - they can be used from 6pm to 12am
  • New Year's Eve, the night of Chinese New Year or the night of Diwali - they can be used from 6pm to 1am. 

It is an offence to use fireworks outside these times. There are different rules for public fireworks displays or events. 

If you want to hold an organised fireworks display, you will need to apply to your local authority for a dispensation. 


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.


A licence is required to hold a funfair in a local authority area. There is guidance about how to apply on the Scottish government website .

Gaming clubs

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


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
Tel: 0131 623 4300
Textphone: 0131 623 4383

Glasgow Office
Delta House
50 West Nile Street
G1 2NP
Tel: 0141 225 6999
Textphone: 0141 241 6316


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.


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.


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
B2 4BP
Tel: 0121 230 6500
Fax: 0121 233 1096

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.


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


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 Driving and Transport page on the website.


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
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
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'. There is no UK-wide legislation prohibiting or regulating vaping in public places. However, many organisations, including NHS boards, local authorities and chains of cafes and pubs have introduced their own policies banning the use of e-cigarettes on their premises.

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 on the Tobacco Register Scotland website.


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.


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.


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). There is more information about being a goods vehicle operator on the website.

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 their 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 and taxi drivers are licensed by the local authority.

TV (television) licences

For information about when you need to have a TV licence see the TV Licensing website.

If you are having difficulty paying for your TV licence there is more information about the different ways to pay on the TV Licensing website.

If you're renting, you'll have to pay for the TV Licence yourself unless your tenancy agreement states that the landlord covers this. However, even if your landlord pays for the licence, you should check that it has been paid for by contacting TV Licensing. If there's no licence, you could be liable for prosecution for watching live TV or using BBC iPlayer.

There's more information about TV licences on the website.

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 on the Tobacco Register Scotland website.

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 Scottish Forestry licence would be required to fell trees. There is more information about felling licences on the Scottish Forestry website, or contact Scottish Forestry at:

Scottish Forestry
Silvan House
231 Corstorphine Road
EH12 7AT

Tel: 0131 370 5250 (general enquiries)


See Nicotine Vapour Products

Waste disposal sites

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

Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
Customer enquiries: 03000 996 699
Pollution hotline: 0800 807 060
Floodline: 0345 988 1188
Dumb Dumpers Stopline: 0300 777 2292

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