You'll need a licence to run a business as a scrap metal dealer.  Trading without a licence is a criminal offence. 

Scrap metal includes:

  • any old, waste or discarded metal or metallic material, and
  • 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

The following are not considered to be scrap metal:

  • gold
  • silver
  • any alloy of which two per cent or more by weight is attributable to gold or silver

There are two types of licence you can apply for:

Site licence

All sites where you are running a business as a scrap metal dealer must be licensed and a site manager will need to be named for each site.  This licence will allow you to transport scrap metal to and from those sites from any local council area.

Collectors licence

A collector's licence will allow you to operate as a collector in the area of the issuing local council.  It doesn't allow you to operate in any other local council area and you'll need a separate licence from each area you want to collect in. 

A collector's licence doesn't authorise you to operate a site, you'll need a site licence for this.

Please be aware that a dealer can only hold one type of licence in any one local council area.  You will need to decide whether you are going to have a site or a collector's licence in any one area.

How to apply

You can apply for a scrap metal dealers site licence or a collector's licence.


You must not receive scrap metal from a person without verifying their name and address.

You must not buy scrap metal for cash.

You must keep a record of all scrap metal you receive including:

  • a description including type, form, condition, weight, any marks identifying previous owners or distinguishing features
  • the date and time
  • the registration mark of the vehicle it was delivered in or on
  • the full name and address of the person received from
  • the full name of the person who makes the payment acting for the dealer

You must keep a record of all scrap metal you dispose of including:

  • a description including type, form and weight (site licence holders only)
  • the date and time
  • the full name and address of the person disposed to
  • if payment is made (by sale or exchange), the price of other consideration received (site licence holders only)

You must keep your records for three years and allow us or the police to inspect your premises and records if asked.

Displaying your licence

A site licence must be displayed in a prominent place, accessible to the public, at each site identified in the licence.

A mobile collector’s licence must be displayed on any vehicle that is being used in the course of the business and must be able to be easily read by a person outside the vehicle.

Renewing your licence

You will need to apply to renew your site or renew your collector's licence every three years if you want to continue running the business. 

You must also tell us within 28 days if you change your trading name or no longer carry on business as a scrap metal dealer.


You can find out more in our guide for scrap metal dealers.



If you have an issue with a scrap metal dealer you can tell us about this.  

Public register

If you would like to view our public register for scrap metal dealers please contact us.

Trade associations

British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA)

Metal Bulletin

International Aluminium Institute