Licences and Permits Needed For Your New Trade Business
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What licences and permits are needed to start a business?

To avoid getting into hot water and being on the receiving end of a fine or penalty, it's important to know what licenses and permits are needed to start a trade business before you start trading. In this post, we look at some of the most common licenses and permits needed by tradespeople in the UK.

Do you need a license to start a business?

Not all businesses require a licence, but it’s important to do your homework to make sure you have the correct permissions for the business activities you intend to carry out.

What licence do I need for my new trades business?

You’ll find the licence finder on the website a really helpful tool.

Suppose you’re looking at starting a construction business, for example. In that case, you’ll discover the list of business licences you’ll need depending on whether you’ll be working in commercial or residential building construction, offering consultancy services, or other specialised construction activities.

For those wanting to start a plastering business, the licence finder tool will outline the licence needed for the breaking up and removal of asbestos, for example.

Who issues business licenses?

Once you’ve done your research on the government’s licence finder site, you’ll be directed to the relevant website where you can make your application.

This is normally through your local authority website, but depending on your business activity, you may be routed through to the Health and Safety Executive website.

If you have any questions, put in a quick call to your local authority, who’ll know the requirements for your local area in particular.

Why would I need a business license?

If you operate without a licence when you should have one, you could face a hefty fine or other penalties. Not to mention the bad press your fledgling business would receive.

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The common licenses tradespeople need in the UK

There are many different types of business licence for tradespeople in the UK. Which ones you need really depend on the type of work you do and the activities it involves.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Handling customer data

One of the things that most – if not all – business owners need to be aware of is their responsibility toward processing customer data safely and securely. If you process customer data in an automated form, you may need a license to process personal data.

Advertising signs and displays on the road or pavement

If you’re going to put an advertising sign or display on a public road or pavement, you’ll need to contact your local council to find out if you need a licence.

Apply for a pavement or street display licence.

Scaffolding and hoarding licence

If your business activity involves you putting up any scaffolding or hoarding on a public highway in the UK, you’ll need to apply for a scaffolding and hoarding licence.

Skip operator licence

Skip hire companies will need to apply for a skip operator licence before placing a skip on any public road or footpath.

Some councils will require you to register under the skip registration scheme before you apply for a licence.

Skip permits

In most cases, skip hire companies are responsible for getting skip licences (or skip permits), but in some areas you will need to arrange it yourself, so best to check with your local council to be on the safe side.

If a skip is to be placed on a public road, it must have safety lights and markings on or around the skip. Apply for a skip permit.

Trade waste licence

If your business transports waste; buys, sells or disposes of waste; or arranges for someone else to buy, sell or dispose of waste, you must register as a waste carrier, broker or dealer.

If you only transport you produce yourself, registration is normally free. Otherwise it costs £154.

Goods vehicle operator licence (HGVs)

If your business uses a goods vehicle above a certain weight, you will need to apply for a vehicle operator licence.

There are three types of operator’s licence for goods vehicles. The correct one for your business will depend on where you transport goods to and from, and who you transport the goods for.

Registration to carry out gas work

To carry out gas work in the UK, it’s a legal requirement to be on the Gas Safe Register, and to renew your registration every year.

You can apply to be on the Gas Safe Register online or by post. It costs £416.40 to register one engineer, and £31.18 for each additional engineer.

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove you have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out gas work.

Licence to fell trees

And finally, felling trees without a licence, where one would’ve been required, is an offence.

The Forestry Commission controls tree felling by issuing felling licences, which you can apply for here.

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Cost of business licence

The cost of business licences varies depending on what licence or permit you need, the local authority or organisation issuing the licence, and how many licences you require.

Before setting up your new trades business, we recommend you write a business plan. This includes researching start up costs (such as licences) and how you’ll finance them.

Free advice to become your own boss

While making sure you have the correct licences and permits for your new trades business is important, there’s plenty more to consider too.

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Does a local business need a permit?

Licences and permits vary depending on the type of business you run, what activities you carry out, and also the area you’re in. To find out if your local business needs a permit, check out the licence finder tool on the website.

Make sure to build trust by showing your licenses

Featuring your permits and licenses on your Checkatrade profile will help to build customer trust

More about joining

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