What licences do I need to open a company?

Ash Baggott

Thinking of setting up a new business in the UK? You’re in luck, it’s actually incredibly simple. However, as a new limited company owner in the UK, you need to make sure you obtain the right licences before you can start trading. 

It’s important to note that not all UK small businesses require a licence. There’s a possibility that you can trade without one, just make sure you’re up to date with HMRC requirements, and you’ve decided on a legal structure.

What is a business licence?

A business licence is an official permit that is issued to you by a government agency or affiliated body, it allows an individual or a limited company to conduct particular business activities. The licence you need depends on what type of business you’re running, and where in the country you’re based.

What business licences do you need?

There are a few important permits that many businesses operating across all local authorities in the UK will need to be aware of before launch day. Also, you should always contact your local authority to find out if there are any specific permits or restrictions against your type of business. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones that UK businesses must or should obtain before beginning trading;

Playing music

If you intend to play recorded music, stage live music in public or play live music in a theatre, you must apply to the PPL PRS for the ‘TheMusicLicence’. The cost will vary based on the type of venue where you’ll be playing music and how you’re using the music, the rules will apply to all shops, offices, salons, cinemas, restaurants, cafes, pubs, churches etc.

Surveillance (CCTV)

If you want to protect your company premises using CCTV, and plan to record members of the public, you will need to get a permit from the Security Industry Authority (SIA). You’ll need to obtain the ‘front line’ for the operatives who carry out surveillance, and a ‘non-front line’ which covering managers, supervisors and other staff who aren’t regularly monitoring the CCTV. To be granted these permits, you’ll need to pass an identity and criminal record check.

On your premises

This is the most common type of business licence needed if you are in the food or entertainment industry. There are several reasons why you would need this one but, the most common is for when you are planning on selling alcohol on your premises. You’ll also need it if you plan to serve hot food or drinks between the hours of 11pm-5am.

Also, you’ll require a premises licence if you plan to show a film or sporting event, exhibit live music, theatre performance, play recorded music, dancing, or show any type of boxing or wrestling. 

How much do business licences cost?

This will depend solely on the type of business permit you’re applying for, and it may be affected by other factors. Individual local authorities set the cost for licences they provide, so the cost can differ depending on where your business is based. You can check your local authority website to view a list of costs.

A good example of how it can differ is; a premises licences for alcohol in England and Wales are subject to an application fee, the fee will be based on the value of the venue you need the permit for.

Not sure what licences your business needs?

You can check with the official licence finder tool on the government website for more information about specific industries and licences needed.

When your business is ready to operate, you’ll need a powerful accounting tool to track all of your finances, with Holded’s online accounting software, you can link your accounting to all your other operations, and access all the information you need in an easy-to-use platform.

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