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If you wish to make a house to house collection for charitable purposes you need to obtain a permit under the House to House Collections Act 1939.

Telephone no: 023 9268 8367 - email:

Licences may be granted for a period not exceeding twelve months, subject to special latitude in cases where the licensing authority wish to provide for the simultaneous expiration of licences in respect of annual collections or collections made continuously over a long period.

Licences may be granted in respect of the whole, or part only, of an area, but, where a collection extends to more than one licensing area, a separate licence must be obtained from each authority.

Within a month after the collection you will be required to forward a statement of all moneys received and all articles collected and disposed of as detailed in the Returns Form. Accounts to the Secretary of State must be sent annually.

Eligibility criteria 

The collections must be for a charitable purpose.

The application must be made no later than one month preceding the proposed collection.

A licensing authority may refuse to grant a licence, or, may revoke a licence already granted, for the following reasons:

  • that it does not appear that an adequate proportion of the proceeds of the collection will be actually applied for charitable purposes 
  • that excessive remuneration is likely to be retained by any person out of the proceeds of the collection 
  • that an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824 has been committed or might be facilitated in connection with the collection 
  • that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence by reason of a conviction under certain specified heads or for fraudulent or dishonest action 
  • that the promoter has failed to exercise due diligence in the appointment of fit and proper collectors or otherwise in the administration of the collection.

Regulation summary

The power to regulate house to house collections and issue licences is contained in the House to House Collections Act 1939 and the House to House Collections Regulations 1947.

Application evaluation process

You will need to complete a House to House Collection Application Form. 
Your application will be subject to a completed application form and meeting the eligibility criteria detailed above.

Will tacit consent apply?

Yes. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from the local authority by the end of the target completion period of a maximum of 42 days. 


You may apply by downloading the attached form and sending together with the supporting documentation by email to or post to: 

Portsmouth City Council 
Licensing Office 
Civic Offices 
Guildhall Square 

Apply online

Failed application redress

Please contact the Local Authority in the first instance: 

Tel: 023 9268 8367 - email

If your application is refused, you may appeal against the decision to the Secretary of State within 14 days of the notice.

Licence holder redress

Please contact the Local Authority:

Tel: 023 9268 8367 - email:

If your licence is revoked, you may appeal against the decision to the Secretary of State within 14 days of the notice.

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). 

If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK,  Adviceguide (external link) will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre (external link).

Please contact the Local Authority: 

Tel: 023 9268 8367 - email:

The main Act of Parliament covering the licensing of house to house collections is the House to House Collections Act 1939 and regulations made thereunder. These regulations are summarised in this leaflet and provide for the legal control and supervision of licensed collections.


The 1939 Act was introduced with the main aim of preventing the promotion of collections by which considerable sums of money were collected from the public but with very little going to a charitable purpose. Parliament intended, however, to introduce a licensing code for "reasonable activities of reputable charities". The 1939 Act will, in due course, be replaced by the Charities Act 1992 which will introduce a new licensing code.


Licences for door to door collections are granted to promoters who then empower other persons to act as collectors. You must specify the charitable purpose to benefit from your collection and tell us whether you wish to collect in all or part of Portsmouth.


Licences can be granted for such time periods as we consider suitable and we can either shorten (or extend!) the time period for collecting. In special circumstances, a licence could be issued for a period of 18 months, the normal 'maximum' time however is 12 months. From experience, we note, promoters normally apply for a licence for monthly periods at a time.


There are no rules preventing us from granting a number of licences in any one year to the same promoter but in each and every case we must be satisfied that you have complied with the requirements of the Act. Although we can refuse to grant or revoke (on prescribed grounds) a licence, we cannot do so merely because your collecting dates might 'clash' with another collection.

Although generally speaking you need a licence to obtain money and/or property by way of public appeal, there are certain exemptions from the Act or other activities that mean you do not need a house to house licence from us. They are:


Local collections over a short period of time

The police may grant a certificate to any person principally concerned in a collection of a local nature which exempts that person from requiring a licence from us under the Act. It is important to note that the collection 'purpose' must be local, ie relevant to Portsmouth. You should, if you think this applies to you, go to your local police station and ask to see an Inspector. Tell them you are making application under section 1(4) of the 1939 Act


WARNING: If granted a certificate by the police you and any collectors must not use badges, documents or certificates calculated to deceive the public AND you must not refuse to give your name and address to a police officer if asked. This is an offence.


National collections throughout England

The relevant Secretary of State may exempt a person/organisation from the requirements to hold a licence if satisfied that you "pursue a charitable purpose throughout the whole of England or a substantial part thereof".


WARNING: Only holders of 'exemption' orders may promote envelope collections after obtaining permission from the Secretary of State. No other person or promoter may promote an envelope collection under a licence issued by the Council.


Collecting in a street or public place in Portsmouth

WARNING: You would need a separate Street collection permit from us to collect in this way. You must not therefore collect money 'on route' from house to house or say pub to pub.


Selling of goods from door to door in Portsmouth

WARNING: You must not make appeals to the public whatsoever that ANY of the proceeds will be used for a charitable purpose (no matter how small an amount)- you would then need a licence from us. You should also check with the police if you need a pedlar's certificate.


Leaving a static collecting tin or receptacle in a house or place of business

The 1939 Act specifies that any licence application must be made in "the prescribed manner". This means the attached application form. This is to allow us to consider carefully the way in which you propose to promote the collection. We may refuse to grant (or revoke) a licence on the following statutory grounds:

  • Inadequate amount of money to be given to charitable purposes.
  • Excessive payments to persons from proceeds received.
  • Likelihood of 'begging' offences being committed.
  • Applicant not considered fit and proper, having been convicted of specified offence(s) detailed in the 1939 Act. (We might ask the applicant or any other person connected with the charitable purpose to submit police checks.)
  • Applicant has previously failed (or is likely to) not exercise due diligence to ensure compliance of regulations, conduct of collectors etc etc.
  • Applicant has not furnished such information as we "may reasonably require".
    It is important therefore that you comply fully with the steps below.
  • That you have normally submitted your application at least one month before the proposed collecting date(s) specified in your application.
  • That you have completed the application form fully in every respect.
  • WARNING: It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement to the Council. We also reserve the right to make more detailed enquiries about your application.

Once you have completed the steps required we will determine your application as quickly as possible. On receiving your licence it is important for you to consider the following

  • That you have read and understood the regulations
  • That you have provided certificates of authority and badges for your collection (obtainable from HMSO stores).
  • That your collectors are over 16 years of age.


That you make arrangements for the return of the statement of income showing details of monies raised to be countersigned by the promoter and another independent responsible person.

  • WARNING: The statement of income must be returned to us within one month of the expiry of the licence. Failure to do so is an offence.



MAY 2001

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