Charitable House to House Collections

Do I need a Licence?

A licence is required to undertake a 'house to house' collection, under the House to House Collection Act 1939.

Any persons wishing to make house-to-house collections for a charitable purpose must first obtain a licence from the Local Authority before they can collect money (or articles which they intend to sell later) from door to door or from one public house to another.

"Charitable purpose" means any charitable, benevolent, or philanthropic purpose, whether or not the purpose is charitable within the meaning of any rule of law.

Some of the larger well-known charities such as Christian Aid, Help the Aged etc, have an Order of Exemption from The Home Secretary so they don’t have to apply for a permit, but these organisations still have to abide by the regulations.

Regulation Summary

The House to House Collection Act 1939

Application Evaluation

Applicants need to be "fit and proper persons" and regulations prescribe how collections should be made in respect of authorised collectors, badges, boxes etc.  West Somerset Council have a diary booking system to try to ensure that different organisations are not collecting at the same time but this is not always achievable.

Where possible, the West Somerset Council does not allow two organisations to collect in the same area on the same day.  A list of permits already issued can be accessed on the Licence Search page.

28 days is the minimum notice required for the determination of the application by West Somerset Council.  It is important to get your application in as soon as possible so that we can prepare and issue your licence well in advance of the collection date.

Reasons for refusal are set out in the Act.  One of the key grounds for refusal would be where the total amount likely to be applied for charitable purpose as a result of the collection, is inadequate in proportion to the value of the proceeds likely to be received, for instance, where an applicant intends to claim a fair proportion of the proceeds for expenses, a permit could be refused.  There is no statutory guidance to local authorities on what would be a reasonable amount for expenses.

On being granted a permit to collect, applicants will be issued with a certificate for the information of H M Stationery Office to enable them to obtain prescribed certificates of authority and the number of badges required.  The certificate must be taken or sent to H M Stationery Office from which the prescribed certificates of authority and badges will be issued.  It is an offence for any collector to collect without having in possession the required signed authority and badge.

Within one month of the date of collection the person whom the permit was granted must forward to the council, the following:

  • A list of the collectors
  • A list of the amounts contained in each collection box
  • A statement showing the amount of monies received and the expenses and payments incurred in connection with such a collection. This statement must be certified by that person and either a qualified accountant or an independent responsible person.  A qualified accountant means a person that is a member one or more of the following bodies:

            i)   The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

            ii)  The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland

            iii) The Association of Certified Accountants

            iv) The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland

You may submit your return online or by post.

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

Yes - this means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from us within 28 days.

The 28 day period begins on the day a fully completed application, including all relevant documentation, is received.

How Do I Apply?

You can submit your application online or by post

Documentation required:

  • Literature about the organisation
  • Copy of published accounts for the last two years
  • Letter from charitable organisation authorising you to undertake a collection on their behalf, if you are not an official of the organisation
  • An agreement or contract details with any registered charity or individual benefiting from this collection
  • Applications should also meet the requirements of Appendix B of the Council's Charitable Collections Policy. 
Failed Application Redress:

Please contact us in the first instance

Licence Holder Redress

Please contact us in the first instance

Contact Us

Licensing Unit, West Somerset Council, West Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 4QA

Email: licensingenvhealth@westsomerset.gov.uk  

Telephone: 01643 703704

Notifying of Incidents or Instances – Street Collection & House to House Collection

If you wish to report any instance or incident relating to unlicensed collections or the behaviour of collectors, please complete the on line form or write to the Licensing Unit.

If you have any comments, enquiries or feedback about any of our services, please complete the online form.  Your comments will be collated and used to improve the service we provide.