Scrap metal dealing

You must have a scrap metal dealer licence to collect or buy scrap metal.

According to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, 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

The definition is not intended to include second hand goods, unless they are made from or include metal that is broken or worn out.

Gold and silver are not considered scrap metal, so this legislation does not apply to jewellers or businesses trading in second hand gold or silver jewellery or products.

Platinum is included in the definition because along with some other rare metals it can be used in catalytic converters.

Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced to enable local authorities to regulate the scrap metal industry more effectively. Key features of the act include:

  • a requirement for all individuals and businesses to apply for a scrap metal dealer licence. Local authorities have the power to turn down unsuitable applicants
  • giving licensing authorities the power to revoke a licence if appropriate
  • requiring all sellers of metal to provide personal identification at the point of sale, which is then recorded by the scrap metal dealer
  • making it an offence to buy metal with cash from itinerant metal collectors
  • new powers for the police and local authorities to enter and inspect sites
  • widening the definition of scrap metal dealer to include motor salvage operators
  • a public register of all licensed scrap metal dealers, see:

Types of licence

There are two different types of licence available. Both are valid for three years and can be renewed.

You can only hold one type of licence within any one local authority area, so you cannot apply for both types of licence from the same council:

  • Site licence: For fixed sites where a licensee carries on business as a scrap metal dealer and there is a named site manager. This licence allows the licensee to transport scrap metal to and from the site and any local authority area.
  • Collector's licence: For mobile collectors, this licence allows the holder to operate in the area of the issuing local authority only. A separate licence will need to be issued from each local authority area that the collector wishes to operate in. This licence does not authorise the holder to operate a site.

In order to carry on your business you may need to hold other environmental permits or licences. For instance, if you carry waste as part of your business it is a legal requirement to register as a waste carrier. This includes transporting waste while travelling from job to job, to a storage place for disposal later, or to a waste disposal company or waste site. For more information on this, or to register see:

You will need to provide details of any other scrap metal licences you hold so that we can check this against the national register.

Note: It is an offence to operate without a licence.

To find out how much a scrap metal dealer licence costs please see:

Apply for a scrap metal dealer licence

Please complete the application form below. You will need to provide the following information:

  • full details of the applicant(s)
  • full details of the company, if applicable (including registered office and details of all directors)
  • a basic criminal disclosure for the relevant personnel
  • address of each site in the district/borough that is to be used
  • bank account details

The scrap metal dealers' licence application form and guidance:

Please return the completed form to our offices at:

  • Licensing, Public Health & Regulation, Adur & Worthing Councils, Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 1HA
  • or email them to 

Further information and advice:

If you have any further queries please contact the Licensing Unit.

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Page last updated: 15 December 2023

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