Scrap metal dealers

Important information →

Tax Checks → With effect from 4 April 2022 HMRC have introduced a new tax check for Local Authorities to ensure licence holders are aware of their tax obligations, and where appliable are registered for tax. Further information is available on GOV.UK (external link).

You will also need to complete a tax check form when you submit an application to the Licensing Team.

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 replaced the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 and the Motor Salvage Operators Regulation 2002.

As part of the Act, to be a scrap metal dealer you must obtain a licence. There are two types of licences:

  • Site licence - allows you to carry on business at the site(s) identified in the licence
  • Collector’s licence - allows you to carry on business as a mobile collector within that authority's area. You will need a collector’s licence from each local authority that you wish to collect scrap metal in. However, you can dispose or sell scrap metal in any local council area without a collectors licence for that area.

The licence (if granted) is valid for three years. A person can only hold one licence in a local authority’s area but can hold a licence in more than one local authority.

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 business consists:

  1. Wholly or partly in recovering salvageable parts from motor vehicles for re-use or sale, and selling or otherwise disposing of the rest of the vehicle for scrap
  2. Wholly or mainly in buying written-off vehicles and repairing and reselling them
  3. Wholly or mainly in buying or selling motor vehicles which are to be the subject 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:

  • Any old, waste or discarded metal or metallic material
  • 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.

Are you eligible for a licence?

To decide if you're eligible for a licence, we will consider the following:

  • 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 shown 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.

How much is it?

There is a fee payable for your scrap metal licence application and it will depend on the type of licence you're applying for. 

How to apply

What additional documents will I need?

The following documents are required for both collectors and site licences:

  • Basic Disclosure Certificate (external link) (a certified copy is acceptable) - if an application is made on behalf of a company, all directors, secretaries and site managers are required to submit a Basic Disclosure. The basic disclosure is only considered valid if submitted, with your application, within 1 month from the date of issue shown on the certificate. 
  • Photographic ID for each person e.g. driving licence or passport
  • Evidence of address e.g. bank statement, council tax form
  • Evidence of bank account details

Along with the above documents, the following is also required for collectors licences:

  • A passport size photograph countersigned on the back
  • Vehicle registration documents (V5 log book and MOT), insurance certificate and waste carriers licence
  • Completed employed collectors form - details of any collectors employed by you as part of the business.

How long will my application take?

To process your application we may consult with various organisations including the Police and Environment Agency. We 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 to confirm whether your application has been successful.

What if your application is refused?

If we propose 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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