Business License Guide in the UK

Last Updated: Dec 06, 2022
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Establishing a new company? For any Entrepreneur, this is an incredibly exciting period, but there is also a large list of obligations to complete just before your business is up and running. Finding out if you require a business licence is among the most crucial things to do although not all businesses in the UK require one, it is extremely important to be mindful.

Starting a business in the UK entails choosing the business insurance and deciding how your organization will function to acquire a location and finance. Having the appropriate company licenses in place is one such challenge you must clear before opening your doors. Business licenses are an excellent way to make sure you’re operating legally and are usually tailored to the sector that your business serves.

However, are you unsure of the kind of company licenses you might be needed?

Read through these sample business licenses to gain a better idea of the different licenses available and to make sure you have the correct ones in place so that your company can get off to a successful start.

Table of Contents

  • What is a Business License?
  • Why Do I Need a Business License?
  • What Business License is Applicable to My Business?
  • Which Industries Require Business Licenses?
  • Business License Examples
  • License to Put Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)
  • License to Sell Alcohol (England and Wales)
  • License for Pavement or Street Display
  • A Business that is Worth Running

What is a Business License?
A business license is a permission granted by the state or a professional organization that specifies how certain business enterprises must be carried out. They are made to ensure the security of clients, consumers, and business owners.

The licenses your company needs are entirely dependent on where in the nation it is located, the industry you work in, as well as the kind of commercial activities you plan to engage in. Business licenses not only make sure that organizations follow the law, but they also hold organizations responsible for their deeds.

Why Do I Need a Business License?
Business licenses are required for a wide range of operations, including handling customer data and activities like playing music or turning on the TV at your place of business.

The main purposes are:

  • To guarantee the public’s and your employee’s health and safety
  • To make your company responsible for its actions
  • Promote best practices
  • To assist you in monitoring the financial health of your company for tax purposes
  • To protect the public’s health and safety


If the activities you intend to engage in demand business licenses, you must make sure you have them in place before your company opens for business, otherwise, you’ll be in violation of the law.

What Business License is Applicable to My Business?
You should always get in touch with your local authority before opening a business in the UK to find out whether there are any zoning limitations or permissions that could restrict your operations due to your location or your industry. However, before they begin operations, many enterprises operating in all local authorities throughout the UK must be aware of a few key permissions.

Which Industries Require Business Licenses?
The majority of businesses including restaurants, hair salons, accountants, legal firms, window cleaners and so on, require business licenses in one way or another.

For instance, you’ll need to have the appropriate business license if you intend to sell alcohol. You can go to the government’s guide on alcohol licensing in your region if you want to apply for one or merely for more information.

These are merely some simple illustrations. If you’re having trouble determining the type of license your small business needs, use the government’s license finder tool to identify the ones that apply to its operations.

Business License Examples

We have provided a list of some of the most popular licenses that UK businesses must or ought to obtain before opening for business to help you in getting started. The type of business you run and the kinds of activities you intend to engage in will have a significant impact on the licensing requirements that apply to your organization, so you have to take that into consideration.

License to Play Background Music
You must apply to the Phonographic Performance License (PPL) and Performing Rights Society (PRS) for what is known as “TheMusicLicense” if your company plans to use sound recordings for theatre production, stage live music events in public, or play live music in a theatre. The price of this license typically varies depending on the type of location and use of the music, but the regulations apply to all stores, offices, salons, cinemas, restaurants, cafes, pubs, churches, and more.

License to Put Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)
This type of license is required if you want to protect your business premises with CCTV equipment. Before you proceed to start using CCTV, you will require to get a license from the Security Industry Authority (SIA) if you plan to record the activities of members of the public in a public or private place.

SIA permits come in two different types. For operatives conducting surveillance, the first is a front-line license. There is a non-front-line licensing available for managers, owners, supervisors, and other staff who don’t routinely monitor CCTV activities. You must be at least 18 years old, prove your identification, and pass background checks on your criminal history in order to obtain a license.

License to Sell Alcohol (England and Wales)
Since selling alcohol in your bar or restaurant is a significant business operation, you must acquire one personal license. If your business intends to sell alcohol from a location, you or a member of your staff must have a personal license. This makes sure that an individual with a personal license has approved each and every sale or supply of alcohol.

You must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid license, such as the Award for Personal License Holders (APLH) Level 2. In England and Wales, you may apply for a license online, but if you’re seeking a personal license in Scotland, you’ll need to get in touch with your local council.

License for Pavement or Street Display
In order to place an advertisement on a road or sidewalk in England or Wales, you must also seek a permit from your local government. It’s crucial that you obtain a license and adhere to any requirements or limitations that come with it. If you violate the terms of your license, it may be revoked and you could incur a fine of up to £2,500.

Without first acquiring a license, placing an advertisement on a sidewalk or road is punishable by a £2,500 fine plus an additional £250 per day for each day the sign or display is there.

A Business that is Worth Running
Depending on the kind of business you’re running and where you’re based, there are a ton of other business licenses you might want to take into account.

When in doubt, you should check the UK Government website and your local authorities before you begin doing business to make sure your company has acquired all necessary business licenses you’ll need to comply with the law. By doing this, you’ll be able to focus more on progress and achievement and spend less time worrying about compliance.

Article by

Marequitta Dequito

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