There are two types of scrap metal dealer's licences - a site licence which will allow a dealer to operate from the sites named on the licence and a collector's licence which will allow dealers to operate as a mobile collector within the council's area.

An application for a site licence must also name a site manager for each site to be covered by the licence. Each licence lasts for up to three years.

Once a licence has been issued, the council will forward details of the licence to the Environment Agency. That agency maintains a register of scrap metal licences issued.


Eligibility criteria

If you wish to carry on the business as a scrap metal dealer, you must obtain either of the following:

  • A site licence (which will allow the dealer to operate from the sites named on the licence)
  • A collector's licence (which will allow dealers to operate as a mobile collector in the council's area. You will need to obtain a collector's licence from each council within whose area you wish to collect)

A scrap metal dealer is anyone who 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 in which it is bought
  • A business as a Motor Salvage Operator

Scrap metal is:

  • 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

Scrap metal is not:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Any alloy of which 2 per cent or more by weight is attributable to gold or silver.

A Motor Salvage Operator is a person who carries on a business which consists:

  • Wholly or partly in recovering salvageable parts from motor vehicles for re-use or sale and subsequently selling or otherwise disposing of the rest the vehicle for scrap
  • Wholly or mainly in buying written-off vehicles and subsequently repairing or reselling them
  • 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 (a) and (b)
  • Wholly or mainly in activities falling within paragraphs (b) and (c)


Regulation summary

You can access a summary and the relevant legislation in the 'External links' below.


Application evaluation process

You will need to submit a completed application and fee.

Section 3 of the Act states that a council must not issue a licence unless it is satisfied the applicant is a suitable person to carry on business as a scrap metal dealer - the 'suitability test':

  • In the case of a partnership, this means assessing the suitability of each of the partners in the partnership
  • While in the case of a company, it means assessing the suitability of any directors, company secretaries or shadow directors.

Therefore, the applicant will need to submit a basic disclosure for each of the above as well as for each site manager named in their application.

Please note that Sunderland City Council will only accept disclosures which are less than three months old.

Checks will also be carried out with Northumbria Police and the Environment Agency to ascertain whether:

  • The applicant or site manager has been convicted of a relevant offence, or subject to any relevant enforcement action
  • The applicant has previously been refused a scrap metal dealers licence or an application to renew a licence has been refused
  • The applicant has previously been refused a relevant environmental permit or registration
  • The applicant had previously held a scrap metal dealers licence that has been revoked.

If no objections are received then a licence will be issued.

However, should relevant objections be received then the council will issue a notice of refusal. The notice gives the applicant the opportunity to make representations (or let the council know they wish to) within 14 days from the date on which the notice is given to the applicant. When the applicant states they want to make representations the council will give them a further period of 14 days in which to do so.

If the applicant does not make any representations, or does not say that they wish to in that time period, then the application will be refused.

If representations are received, the matter will be referred to a Licensing Sub-Committee for consideration. The applicant will be invited to attend this meeting in order to make oral representations in respect of their application.


Application fees

Site licence (for a single site and for determination of the suitability of a single person) - see 'Supplementary fees' below£668.69
Collector's licence - see 'Supplementary fees' below£344.76

Supplementary fees to the application fees above

Supplementary fee for each additional site covered by a site licence£396.16
Supplementary fee per person in respect of each person named as a site manager (other than the applicant) and, in the case of any application by a partnership or limited company, each individual partner, director, secretary and shadow director£18.22

Fees for variations to existing licences

Variation in type of licence, for example, from collector's licence to site licence or the reverse (Schedule 1 Para 3(1) Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013)£456.36
Variation upon change in name (but not identity) of licensee or site managers named in licence (Schedule 1 Para 3(2) Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013)£35.17
Variation upon each change of the authorised sites covered by a licence (Schedule 1 Para 3(2) Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013)£396.16


Will 'tacit consent' apply?

Tacit consent does not apply to applications for scrap metal dealer's licences. The council must ensure that, should they be minded to grant an application, the applicant is a fit and proper person.

Our target completion period for applications for licences is 60 working days from the time when all documentation and fees have been submitted.

If you have not heard from us within this period, please contact us. You can do this online if you applied through the 'UK Welcomes business' service.


Apply online

You can apply online by using the 'Do it online' section of this page.


Public register

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act creates a requirement for a register of scrap metal dealers licences. The Environment Agency must maintain a register of scrap metal licences issued in England, and Natural Resources Wales must maintain a register of scrap metal licences issued in Wales. Both registers will be open to the public.

Under the provisions of the Act when councils issue a licence they are obliged to pass on certain information to the Environment Agency/NRW to enter on the register. The information that has to be passed on about each licence is:

  • The name of the council which issued the licence
  • The name of the licensee
  • Any trading name under which the licensee conducts business as a dealer
  • The address of any site identified in the licence
  • The type of licence (site or collector)
  • The date the licence expires


Failed application redress

Please contact us in the first instance.

There is no statutory right of appeal against the refusal of a street trading licence.


Consumer complaint

Please contact us in the first instance.


Trade associations

Please see the 'External links' below.