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Scrap metal dealers

Under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, any person collecting, buying or selling scrap metal requires a Scrap Metal Dealers licence issued by the local authority. This includes motor salvage operators.

Do I need a licence?

If you or your business deals in the buying or selling of scrap metal whether the metal is sold in the form in which it is bought or not, then yes. Scrap metal is defined as any old, waste or discarded metal or metallic material and any product, article or assembly which is made from or contains metal and is broken, worn out or regarded by its last holder as having reached the end of its useful life.


If scrap metal is a by-product of your business, you may be exempt from the need to be licensed, it will be necessary for you to prove the proportion of your business that consists of dealing in scrap metal. Examples of businesses that may be able to claim exemption are:

  • Builders, plumbers, electricians, motor vehicle repair garages, and engineering workshops or any other business where scrap metal is recovered or produced as the result of the main purpose of the business.


There are two types of licences, site and collectors. Both licences last for three years once issued.

A site licence

Allows a scrap metal dealer to carry on business from a site in a local authority area. A site licence allows the dealer to collect and bring metal back to site (from any location within or outside the home borough). There is a requirement that a site manager be named for each site licensed. A site can be a home office from which arrangements are made to collect scrap before depositing them at another licensed site. You cannot collect unannounced door to door, but you can collect scrap by pre arranged appointment.

A collectors licence

Allows a scrap metal dealer to carry on business in a local authority area as a mobile collector. This licence covers dealers who do not have a site and regularly collect through door-to-door collections. The dealer requires a separate licence for each local authority area they operate in. This includes commercial as well as domestic scrap metal. There is no restriction as to the location where the collector can transport and sell their metal.

How to apply

  • complete the application form, keeping a copy of the completed form for your own records
  • send the completed form and a basic criminal record check issued within the last month to the Licensing Team. The fee can be paid over the telephone by calling 01684 272271 or online.


There are a number of regulations that scrap metal dealers must adhere to. This includes keeping detailed records of scrap bought and sold, information on the identity of the purchaser/seller and other details. The Home Office have developed a supplementary guidance document for the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 which explains your responsibilities. Before making an application you should ensure that you will be able to comply with the requirements.

Suitability to hold a licence

We must be satisfied the applicant is a suitable person to carry out business as a scrap metal dealer. This includes; in the case of a partnership, each of the partners, and in the case of a company, each director, company secretary and shadow director.

As part of the application process each applicant must provide a Basic Disclosure certificate with the application form. You can apply online for the Basic Disclosure certificate, or by completing a form, and paying a fee. A certificate with the results of the disclosure application will usually be issued within 28 days.

We also carry out checks with the Environment Agency and other local authorities if an applicant holds a registration with another Council.

Waste Carriers Licence

A licence under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 does not replace the Waste Carrier’s Licence. To collect scrap metal you will be required to hold a licence issued by us and a Waste Carriers Licence issued by the Environment Agency.


Once we receive your application and accompanying documents, there is a consultation period of 28 days in which we pass your application to the Council’s planning department, the Police, the Environment Agency and other partner bodies. These bodies have the opportunity to raise concerns with or object to your application.

What happens next?

If no representations are received, the application must be granted.

Issuing your licence

Following the end of the consultation period and once inspected (if required) we aim to issue your licence with 10 working days.

Duration of licence

Site and collectors licences last for 3 years. You must apply to renew your licence at least 6 weeks before it is due to expire.


If you have a concern or complaint about a scrap metal dealer or you believe that an unlicensed dealer has removed your waste, please contact the Licensing Team.