Scrap metal dealer licence

To conduct business as a scrap metal dealer you need a licence.

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'.

The only exemption to this is gold and silver, or any alloy which is  two per cent or more by weight attributable gold or silver.

Types of licences

There are two types of licence, one for a site and the other for a mobile collector. You can hold either a site licence or a collector’s licence for Woking borough area, not both.  Trading without a licence is a criminal offence.

Each licence lasts for three years. It does not cover other local authority areas. 

Site licence

A site licence authorises you to carry on business at a specific site and the licence must be displayed to your customers. The licence allows you to transport scrap metal to and from your site from any local authority area. It does not allow the licensee to collect scrap metal door to door.

Collector licence

A mobile collector is someone who deals in scrap metal but does not store collected metal on site. The licence authorises the licensee to collect scrap door to door within the Woking borough. It covers employees but not self-employed collectors working for the licensee.

Applying for a collector's or site licence

There is some debate about when a site or collector's licence is needed. This is because a site licence is only needed for a site from which you operate, while a collector's licence is needed from each council area in which you operate. This can be more expensive if you collect from a number of different council areas.

At the moment,  we consider that a site licence can be for any relevant address and does not mean there has to be scrap actually present. This is subject to change pending future guidance/case law.

If you operate from your home address, we may consider this suitable for a site licence. However you will need to make sure you have the appropriate waste management and planning permissions in place.

A site licence only allows you to collect to, and from, the site and therefore would apply only to pre-arranged visits to specified addresses to collect scrap. If you are intending to visit an area unannounced to find, and buy, potential scrap, you will need a collector's licence.

What you must do as a scrap metal dealer

Once issued, you must display the site licence in a prominent position either on the premises, or, for a collector's licence, on the vehicle you use for collecting scrap.

Scrap metal dealers cannot receive scrap without confirming and keeping copies of the identity of the supplier. The supplier must provide his or her full name and address, along with separate documents showing evidence of these details.

There must be no cash purchases of scrap metal in any circumstances - payments must be by cheque or electronic transfer of funds.

Information you must keep:

  • your records in a manner which allows the information and the scrap metal to which it relates to be readily identified by reference to each other.
  • all records for at least three years from the date you received or disposed of the metal.
  • detailed records of all suppliers; people they sell to; a detailed log of the metal itself and copies of any payments you receive.
  • If you trade in scrap metal then the customer must provide a valid personal ID at the point of sale.

Information you must record:

  • description of the metal, including its type, form, condition, weight, marks identifying previous owners or other distinguishing features
  • date and time of the receipt
  • vehicle registration number of collecting vehicle
  • name and address of the supplier
  • name of the person paying the supplier for the metal
  • copy of any document used to verify the name and address
  • copy of the cheque, if the supplier is paid by this method
  • receipt identifying the electronic transfer if payment was by that method, or, in the absence of a receipt, identifying particulars.

Failure to keep records could lead to a fine.

How to apply

Apply for a site and/or mobile collector licence

Documents required

  • All applicants must supply a Disclosure Baring Certificate (formerly called CRB). This certificate must be dated within three months of the application date.
  • Persons involved in a company as a director, partner or company secretary must also supply Disclosure Baring Certificates.
  • Applicants for collectors licences must provide a passport style photograph.

Fees and charges

Both licences are subject a licence fee. 

See our list of fees and charges for commercial licences and permits

Change of circumstances

Please note you must notify us within 28 days if you stop trading or change your business name.


Public register

There is a public register of scrap metal dealers on the Environment Agency website.

See register of scrap metal dealers

Environment Agency permits and licences

If you transport scrap metal and/or deal with scrap vehicles or vehicle parts, you will most likely need a licence or permit from the Environment Agency.

Find out more on the Environment Agency website

Phone:  08708 506 506