House to house collections licence
Last updated: 28/12/2012
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No collection for a charitable purpose can be made unless the
requirements of the House to House Collections Act 1939 are
The Act requires a licence (unless one of the exceptions below
applies) to be in place for house to house collections for
charitable purposes and the process for this is contained in the
Act and in Regulations under the Act.
The licence is issued by the local authority. If a person
promotes a collection for a charitable purpose, and a collection is
made, then, unless a licence is in force authorising him, or
authorising another under whose authority they act, to promote a
collection they are guilty of an offence. The penalty for
this on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding
six months and/or a fine not exceeding £1000.
If a person acts as a collector, unless there is in force a
licence authorising a promoter under his authority they act, or
authorising the collector themselves, to promote a collection they
are guilty of an offence. The penalty for this on summary
conviction, in the case of a first conviction, is a fine not
exceeding £500. In the case of a second or subsequent
conviction the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding
three months and/or a fine not exceeding £500.
Some of the larger well-known charities such as Christian Aid
and Help the Aged have an exemption order granted to them by
the Home Office and this saves them from having to apply to
the licensing authority for a permit. Most
charities that hold exemption orders still notify the licensing
authority of their collection dates which helps to avoid clashes,
but inevitably there is overlapping of dates with these blanket
The Police also have the power, when an application is referred
for comment, to issue a certificate for the collection. This
is permitted where the collection is local in character and likely
to be completed in a short period of time. In practice, the
Police tend not to issue these certificates.
'Charitable purpose' means any charitable, benevolent or
philanthropic purpose, whether or not the purpose is charitable
within the meaning of any rule of law'
‘Collection' means an appeal to the public, made by means of
visits from house to house, to give, whether for consideration or
not, money or other property.
‘Collector’ means, in relation to a collection, a person who
makes the appeal in the course of such visits.
‘House’ includes a place of business.
‘Proceeds’ means, in relation to a collection, all money and all
other property given, whether for consideration or not, in response
to the appeal made.
‘Promoter’ means, in relation to a collection, a person who
causes others to act, whether for remuneration or otherwise, as
collectors for the purposes of the collection.
This means that collections of clothing and also direct debit
fundraising are included in the need to obtain a licence.
Applying for a Licence
Applications for a licence must be made in the prescribed form
to the licensing authority no later than one month before the date
of the proposed collection.
Please note: Before making the application you should
contact the council to check that the required dates are
Please follow the link below to apply online or to download an
applicaiton form for a house to house collection licence:
Apply for a house to house collection licence
The council has produced house to
house collection guidance notes which explain the
circumstances where a licence is required from Cornwall
Council and the duties imposed on persons promoting or taking part
in such collections.
Within 28 days after your house to house collection, you are
required to submit a return form.
Please follow the link below to submit a return online or to
download the return form for posting:
Submit a house to house collection return
The Secretary of State has made Regulations which prescribe
certain rules for the conduct of collections licensed by a
licensing authority. The regulations include the prescribed
documents such as the application, return forms and authorisation
and badges for collectors. A copy of the
house to house collection Regulations will be issued by
the licensing authority on application for a licence. It is
an offence to contravene or fail to comply with the
regulations. The penalty for doing so on summary conviction
is a fine not exceeding £200.
We will aim to process your application within 28 days of
receipt of a valid and complete
application. Tacit consent applies to these applications
and this means if you have not received a response from
us within this time then you can assume your application
Please note however that you must be in
possession of a licence to carry out a
How your application will be processed
Once a completed application is received the council will
consult with the Police on the application. The council is
permitted to refuse the application, or revoke a licence, if it
appears to the council that:
- the total amount likely to be applied for charitable purposes
as the result of the collection (including any amount already so
applied) is inadequate in proportion to the value of the proceeds
likely to be received (including any proceeds already
- remuneration which is excessive in relation to the total amount
aforesaid is likely to be, or has been, retained or received out of
the proceeds of the collection by any person;
- the grant of a licence would be likely to facilitate the
commission of an offence under section three of the Vagrancy Act
1824, or that an offence under that section has been committed in
connection with the collection;
- the applicant or the holder of the licence is not a fit and
proper person to hold a licence by reason of the fact that he has
been convicted in the United Kingdom of any offences specified in
the Schedule attached to the House to House Collections Act 1939,
or has been convicted in any part of His Majesty’s dominions of any
offence conviction for which necessarily involved a finding that he
acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or of an offence of a kind the
commission of which would be likely to be facilitated by the grant
of a licence;
- the applicant or the holder of the licence, in promoting a
collection in respect of which a licence has been granted to him,
has failed to exercise due diligence to secure that persons
authorised by him to act as collectors for the purposes of the
collection were fit and proper persons, to secure compliance on the
part of persons so authorised with the provisions of regulations
made under the House to House Collections Act 1939, or to prevent
prescribed badges or prescribed certificates of authority being
obtained other than persons so authorised; or
- the applicant or holder of the licence has refused or neglected
to furnish to the authority such information as they may reasonably
required for the purpose of informing themselves as to any of the
matters specified in the foregoing bullet points.
If there are no objections to the application then the licence
will be issued. If there is an objection or concern in
relation to the application then it will be referred to the
Miscellaneous Licensing Committee to determine the application.
If an application is refused, or granted with restrictions, the
applicant has the right to appeal. Additionally, a licence
holder can appeal if his licence is
The council will give a written notice to the applicant
informing them of the decision, the reason for the decision and
right of appeal. Appeals must be made to the Secretary of
State/Minister for the Cabinet Office within 14 days of the date of
the decision notice.
If the Secretary of State decides to grant the appeal, the
council must issue the licence or cancel the revocation in
accordance with the decision of the Secretary of State.
There is no fee for an application for a House to House
It is essential that the promoter of the collection is fully
aware of the requirements of the regulation under the Act as
already mentioned, non compliance is an offence.
In particular the promotor has to apply to a Government
Department to obtain badges for collectors, authorise collectors
and ensure the necessary statements, in the prescribed form, are
returned within one month of the collection.
Complaints about collectors
If you have a complaint about a collector then please contact
licensing services in the first instance. We will try to
assist you or direct you to the appropriate organisation.
Additional information on house to house collections can be
found on the Charity Commission