Shropshire Council

Scrap metal licence

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Tax obligations: From 4 of April 2022, any renewal application will have to provide proof of potential tax obligations. Each applicant will be required to provide a code from HMRC to confirm that a tax check has been completed. Any new applicant will be required to declare that they are aware of their tax obligations.

To complete a tax check you'll need to follow the guidance on the Gov.UK website.


The dealing in scrap metal or the running of a scrap metal business (including motor salvage operators) is controlled by the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013. No one can carry out the business of dealing in scrap metal unless they have a licence. A person carries on business as a scrap metal dealer if that person:

(a) 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 was bought, or

(b) carries on business as a motor salvage operator.

Trading without a licence is a criminal offence, for which the offender can be fined if convicted. Tradespersons won't require a scrap metal dealer’s licence if buying or selling scrap metal is an incidental function of their core business (eg being a plumber or electrician). However, courts will apply the ‘reasonable person’ test when assessing whether the buying or selling scrap metal is wholly or partly the focus of the business, or whether it's an incidental function.

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

But it does not include:

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

A scrap metal dealer who holds a site licence must display a copy of the licence at each site identified in the licence, in a prominent place accessible to the public. A scrap metal dealer who holds a collector’s licence must display a copy of the licence on any vehicle that is being used in the course of the dealer’s business, in a manner which enables it easily to be read by a person outside the vehicle. It's an offence not to do so. If a mobile collector holds several scrap metal licences, they must ensure that the correct licence is displayed when collecting in the relevant licensing council area, again; failure to do so is an offence.

A site licence holder may wish to carry a copy of the relevant site licence in their vehicle so that they're not mistaken for an unlicensed mobile collector. However, there's no legal requirement to do this.

If a scrap metal dealer receives any scrap metal they must record:

  • the description of the metal, including its type, form, condition, weight, marks identifying previous owners or other distinguishing features
  • date and time of the receipt
  • vehicle registration mark
  • name and address of the supplier
  • name of the person paying the supplier for the metal
  • copy of any document used to verify the name and address
  • copy of the cheque, if the supplier is paid by cheque
  • receipt identifying the electronic transfer if payment was by that method or, in the absence of a receipt, identifying particulars.

A clear description would be "Brass pump with ‘Anchor Ltd’ stamp, and approx. 10m blue copper cable."

A poor description would be "Heavy brass and cable."

The above information must be retained in a way that can link it to the scrap metal it refers to and must be retained for three years. Records must be recorded in a manner which allows the information and scrap metal to be easily identified by reference to each other. The requirement to link recorded descriptions to the scrap metal to which they relate is intended to be proportionate, and it may not be possible to go into the same level of detail for larger deliveries. If the scrap is (for example) one washing machine, it would be sensible to say so rather than use a more generic term. The records should contain sufficient identification detail to ensure that there's no intention to obscure the identity and type of metal being processed.

A collector’s licence authorises the licensee to carry on business as a mobile collector in the licensing authority’s area only. A separate collector’s licence is needed for each council area in which a mobile collector collects scrap metal. A mobile collector can dispose of or sell scrap metal in any local council area regardless of whether a collector’s licence is held for that area.

A mobile collector will need a licence to buy or sell any scrap metal collected. Even if the material is provided free of charge, a licence is required in order to sell it on as, in contrast to the 1964 act, definition of a scrap metal dealer in this act includes any person who “carries on a business which consists wholly or partly in buying or selling scrap metal.”

A mobile collector's licence will cover any employees working for that business. If they're not employed directly by that mobile collector’s business and are self-employed, they'll need their own collector’s licence even if they're collecting metal from the same van as a person who has a mobile collector’s licence. However, if a mobile collector has employees, it may be an indication that they're operating a business, which, if it's administered from a site, (even if it's a home address), moves them further towards the site licensing regime.

A site licence authorises the licence holder to carry on business at any site in the local authority’s area which is identified in the licence. A site licence holder can transport scrap metal from third party businesses by arrangement from any other local authority area providing it's in the course of the business from that site. A site licence holder cannot regularly engage in collecting waste materials and old, broken, worn out or defaced articles by means of visits from door to door in the area they are licensed or elsewhere, as this would constitute carrying on a business as a mobile collector. It would be acceptable to collect by arrangement, for instance where a motor salvage operator is asked to transport a damaged vehicle from an address to their site.

Mobile collectors and site licence holders need to ensure they comply with relevant environmental legislation and regulation when carrying out their business.

How long will it take?

We aim to issue a licence within two months of receiving a complete application.

How much will it cost?

There is a fee for issuing this document, which is taken when you apply.

What will I need before I apply?

  • Completed application form
  • Fee
  • A bank account
  • A basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (
  • See application form for any additional requirements

Apply now

Download the form, complete it on your home computer, and email it to

Download an application form

Download the form, print it out, fill it in and post your application along with the fee if applicable to:

The Licensing Team, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND

Download an application form