Charitable collections are currently regulated by 2 separate pieces of legislation:
- 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").
We are 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.
There is no fee associated with these applications. Tacit consent does not apply, which means you must only carry out your collection once you have been granted permission by us. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period (not less than 28 days), please contact us by email to email@example.com.
Types of permission
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 us. 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.
You will need to make sure you abide by our Street collection conditions whilst carrying out your collection.
After carrying out your collection, you need to send us a street collection form of statement (PDF) [68KB] by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, which tells us how much has been collected and the amount which is going towards the charitable purpose.
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 us, unless an Exemption Certificate has been received from the Charity Commission.
Collectors must be able to prove that they are authorised to collect by holding a certificate of 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.
Our 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.
Apply for house to house collection
Again, you will have to complete a house to house collection form of account of expenses (PDF) [63KB] to tell us what has been collected and what amount will be going towards the charitable cause. You should send the completed form to us by email to email@example.com
The following examples are not comprehensive but are provided to assist fund-raisers and the public.
Collections conducted: entirely within shop premises, or by means of static collection boxes in private premises will not require a street collection permit.
Collections made: adjacent to public thoroughfares (such as in shop doorways), or in premises to which the public have unrestricted access without payment (such as indoor shopping centres) will require a street collection permit.
Collections made, for example, by visiting more than 1 public house, with landlords' consent, will require a house to house collection licence.
The activities of Direct Debit mandate collectors (so-called "chuggers") are not regulated by the law and are not therefore subject to any licensing provision. Please make any complaints about their activities to the charity which they represent, the police, the Charity Commission or one of the organisations representing the sector.