Find out more about permissions for house to house collections and street collections

Charitable collections are currently regulated by two separate Acts of Parliament:

  • The police, factories, etc. (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916 deals with collections of money or sales of articles for charitable purposes in streets or public places
  • The House to House Collections Act 1939 deals with collections of money or other articles made by means of going from house to house 

Regrettably, the law is inconsistent and does not cover some common types of fundraising, such as direct debit collectors in the street ("chuggers").

The borough council is the licensing authority for both street and house to house collections, although it is possible for nationally based charities to obtain exemption orders from the Charity Commission enabling house to house collections to be carried out over a wide area, subject to notice to local authorities. Small house to house collections, such as carol singing in a limited area for a local worthy cause, can be granted an exemption certificate by the Police - please contact your local police station.

Apply for a Street Collection Permit or a House to House Collection Permit - there is no fee associated with these applications. Tacit consent does not apply - the legislation seeks to protect the public and it is in the public interest that your application is determined by the council as Licensing Authority. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period (not less than 28 days), please contact us.

What permissions are needed?

Street collections

Any collection of money or sale of articles for a charitable purpose (this can be any worthy cause, not just a registered charity) in a street or other public place will need a street collection permit from the borough council. Collectors must hold a written authorisation from the promoter of the collection and must produce it on request to a police officer or an authorised officer of the council. There is an exception from the general rule in the case of a collection taken at a public meeting in the open air.

Additionally, permission from the landowner may also be required, for instance in a shopping centre or other privately owned area.

The borough council has discretion as to the grant of street collection permits, subject to a duty to act reasonably.

House to house collections 

Collections of money (including promises to pay at a later date), goods (such as clothes) or sales of articles for a charitable purpose (see above), made by means of visits from house to house (including business premises, such as public houses), will need a house to house collection licence from the borough council, if no Exemption Order or local police certificate has been obtained.

Collectors must be able to prove that they are authorised to collect by holding a certificate or authority and badge issued by the promoter of the collection and producing them to a police officer or any occupant of the premises from which they are collecting.

The borough council's powers to refuse a house to house licence are restricted by the legislation, but a licence can be refused if the total amount likely to be applied for charitable purposes out of the collection or payments from the proceeds of collection are excessive in proportion to the total proceeds of the collection.

If applications for permission need to be made, the forms have been made available on the individual subject pages.

Additional information on bingo in community centres and members' clubs, race nights is available from the Gambling Commission and Lotteries.

In general terms, none of these opportunities to raise funds for worthy causes are available to any commercial undertaking.

Licensing Team