Scrap metal dealers


The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 (the Act) was passed on 28 February 2013 and came into force on 1 October 2013. The new Act replaces the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and Part 1 of Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001, creating a revised regulatory regime for the scrap metal recycling and vehicle dismantling industries.

Carrying on a business as a scrap metal dealer

A person carries on business as a scrap metal dealer if the person:

  • Carries on a business which consists wholly or partly in buying or selling scrap metal, whether or not the metal is sold in the form it was bought; or
  • Carries on a business as a motor salvage operator

A person carries on business as a motor salvage operator if the person carries on a business which consists:

  1. wholly or partly in recovering salvageable parts from motor vehicles for re-use or sale and subsequently selling or otherwise disposing of the rest of the vehicle for scrap,
  2. wholly or mainly in buying written-off vehicles and subsequently repairing and reselling them,
  3. wholly or mainly in buying or selling motor vehicles which are to be the subject (whether immediately or on a subsequent re-sale) of any of the activities mentioned in paragraphs (1) and (2), or
  4. wholly or mainly in activities falling within paragraphs (2) and (3).

“Scrap metal” includes:

  1. any old, waste or discarded metal or metallic material, and
  2. 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.

Key features of the Act

The aim of the legislation is to revise the regulatory regime for scrap metal dealing and vehicle dismantling and to give the Police and Local Authorities more powers to refuse and revoke licences as well as greater rights of entry and inspection.

The Act requires a scrap metal dealer to obtain a licence in order to carry on business as a scrap metal dealer. There are two types of licences:

  • Site Licence
  • Collector’s Licence

A person can only hold one licence in a local authority’s area but can hold a licence in more than one local authority.

The site licence authorises the licensee to carry on business at the site(s) identified in the licence.

The collector's licence authorises the licensee to carry on business as a mobile collector within that authority's area. Therefore individuals wishing to collect across borders will be required to obtain a collector’s licence from each relevant local authority where they wish to collect scrap metal.

A collector can dispose or sell scrap metal in any local council area regardless of whether a collector’s licence is held for that area.


An applicant for a licence must be suitable and the local authority, when determining suitability, can have regard to:

  • Whether the applicant or any site manager has been convicted of any relevant offence
  • Whether the applicant or any site manager has been the subject of any relevant enforcement action
  • Any previous refusal for issue of or renewal of a scrap metal licence
  • Any previous refusal for an environment permit or registration
  • Any previous revocation of a scrap metal licence
  • Whether the applicant has demonstrated that there will be adequate procedures to comply with the Act

All of the above will apply to any director, or any secretary of a company if the applicant is not an individual.

Application process

Download the application form for a scrap metal licence, which contains detailed guidance notes to assist applicants in the completing of the application.

Once you have completed the application form, you can book an appointment to submit the application and relevant documentation.

The application must be made in person as we need to check and return your original documents, and confirm your identify.

There is a fee payable for your application. Please be aware that we only accept payment by credit / debit card. 

The licence (if granted) is valid for three years and permits the licence holder to operate within the boundaries of the issuing authority.

How long will my application take?

In processing your application we may consult with various organisations including the Police and Environment Agency and will allow a period of 28 days for any objections or representations to be made regarding your application. You can expect to hear from us at the end of this 28 day period as to whether your application has been successful.

Application refusals

If the council proposes to refuse your application you will be given written notice of the proposed decision. A period of 14 days will be allowed for you to make representations regarding the council’s proposal to refuse your application. 

Failure to comply

If you do not have a licence or do not comply with any of the requirements, you may be prosecuted, fined up to £5000 and/or imprisoned or both. There may be consequences for your licence including imposition of conditions or revocation.

Legal requirements for licence holders

The Act will introduce the requirement for scrap metal dealers to verify the identity and full name and address of the metal supplier and keep copies of proof of identification. In addition the dealer must keep records of the type of description of the metal(s) including weight and identifying marks, the date and time of receipt, the vehicle registration of any vehicle delivering the metal and copies of cheques used to pay for metal. All records must be kept for 3 years.

The Act prohibits the payment of cash for scrap metal.


Local Authority and Police Officers have been given powers to inspect licensed premises and can require production of any scrap metal at the premises, inspect records kept and take copies of those records. The Act provides police or local authority powers to issue closure notices to unlicensed scrap metal dealing premises and apply to a justice of the peace for a closure order.

Public register

The Act has also introduced the requirement for the Environment Agency to keep and maintain a register of scrap metal licences issued in England and that register will be open for public inspection.


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