Ben Brading 4 min read

Waste Carrier Licence

The waste carrier licence regime is crucial to the government’s strategy to prevent fly-tipping of commercial waste.

The rules require that anyone transporting commercial waste must be registered. The potential fines for transporting waste without a licence are unlimited.

💡 If your business wants to transport commercial waste to a local recycling centre, it must hold a lower-tier waste carrier licence. These are free to apply for, and the application process only requires a few simple details.

Who needs a waste carrier licence?

There are two tiers of waste carrier licences. In this section, we’ll cover the activities allowed by each licence:

Lower tier waste carrier licence

Crucially, a lower-tier waste carrier licence is required if you transport your own general business waste or recycling to a local commercial recycling centre.

💡Most public recycling centres don’t accept commercial waste. Find the local commercial recycling centres in your area on our locations page.

A lower tier waste carrier licence covers:

  • Any business that transports waste they generate (except construction or demolition waste).
  • Charities or voluntary organisations that transport waste.
  • Transport of animal by-products, quarry waste, or agricultural waste.

💡A waste carrier licence isn’t required for businesses moving waste around their own premises.

Higher tier waste carrier licence

A higher tier waste carrier licence covers:

  • Contractors that transport waste from households, such as garden waste, house clearances, or construction waste.
  • Skip companies.
  • Any business that buys, sells or disposes of waste from other companies or households.
  • Any broker that arranges to buy, sell or dispose of waste.

💡 Waste exporters that only transport waste by boat do not need a waste carrier licence.

Where can I apply for a waste carrier licence?

The devolved home nations are responsible for managing waste carrier licences separately. Here’s where you can apply in each:

Once you’ve registered for a waste carrier licence, the relevant authority will provide you with a unique licence number, which you’ll need when filling out waste transfer notes.

How much does a waste carrier licence cost?

A waste carrier licence is free for businesses that simply want to transfer waste they have generated on their premises (a lower tier licence).

Otherwise, here are the current waste carrier licence costs:

  • England – £154 for new applications, £105 for renewals.
  • Wales – £159 for new applications, £109 for renewals.
  • Scotland – £284 for new applications, £180 for renewals
  • Northern Ireland – £164 for new applications, £82 for renewals.

Sources: Prices extracted by our experts in June 2024.

Check a waste carrier licence

UK commercial waste regulations require companies to verify that a person or business is authorised to handle waste before transferring waste to them.

For a commercial waste collection provider, this authorisation is confirmed by the possession of a valid waste carrier licence.

Use the following links to search the public registers for waste carrier licences:

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