Do I need a Licence for My Company?

Once you have formed and started to run your company, you may find that you need a professional licence in order to operate legally.

In the UK there are several different types of business that need a licence in order to operate. The most well known of these are those selling alcohol or tobacco, or those to do with gambling. The following sections highlight some examples of licence that may be needed.

Alcohol Licensing

If you are permanently selling alcohol then you will need an alcohol licence; these are obtained by sending an application form to your local council. For more information on the types of licences and how to obtain them check out the Gov.uk website.

You will need to have a premises licence in place in order to sell alcohol. This is issued once the premises has been inspected and has met the required standards. You will also need to have at least one person holding a personal licence. This person can then authorise others to sell alcohol on the premises. As the company owner, it may be worthwhile also having the personal licence so that you can make the final decisions.

There can be a lot of responsibility when it comes to this type of licence. To be able to keep it, you need to make sure you aren't breaking any laws that cover you. If you are found to be in breach, you could end up losing your licence and having your premises shut down. This could also lead to a hefty fine and being unable to apply for the same licence in the future.

Temporary Licences

Your company may only need a temporary licence in a few instances. For example, if you're running an annual event once a year where alcohol will be on sale. Or if you're running a lottery to raise money for a good cause. If this is the case, you will have to apply to your Local Authority for your area in order to obtain the licence.

Driving Licence

If you're running a company that needs HGV drivers, or instructs others on how to drive, then you, and the individual drivers, would need driving licences. These may be specific to the type of vehicle being driven and are issued by the DVLA.

Licence Renewals

In some cases. a personal licence lasts for 10 years and can be renewed for a further 10 years, so long as the relevant authorities are happy with your continued suitability to hold the licence. Most other licences will also need periodic renewal, as well as the relevant fees paid. The fees can vary so make sure you check the relevant prices for the licence you are planning on renewing.

In most cases you will need an accredited qualification in the relevant industry sector before you can obtain a licence. This could mean having a public house management qualification in your application for example.

You may also have to have checks performed on your background to see if you have a criminal record. The police may object to a personal licence being issued if any convictions are present. The police can also revoke a currently held licence if they feel concerned about you as an individual. Also if the police have any concerns about the premises being used, they can also revoke the premises licence. This could mean your business being shut down.

Other businesses where a licence will be required

When setting up a business you should always check beforehand if your business requires any licences to operate. This Licence Finder from Gov.uk is a good place to start.

Businesses that may need a licence can include:

  • Food premises
  • Entertainment (e.g. games machines/slot machines)
  • Street Trading
  • Waste Removal
  • Scrap Metal Collections

Usually these are obtained from the Local Authority where you are based. However, you may need to approach a trade association that is connected with the business sector.

Trading without a licence can lead to serious consequences, such as your business being closed down, fines being imposed and, in some cases, a criminal conviction.

Some of the licensing may require a DBS (Disclosure & Barring Service) check to be performed; this is where your criminal record is checked. It is usually carried out on individuals that are working with vulnerable groups, including children but can depend on the role, but some authorities may insist you have one carried out before a licence can be issued.

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