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4 common examples of when you need a business licence

James Watkins - Law on the Web

  1. 28 September 2015
  2. Business
  3. 0 comments

There are many different licences, and which ones you may require will depend on your business’s activities. Here are a few business activities which, depending on your business, may or may not require licensing.

Food licensing

If your business is involved in preparing, selling, storing, or conducting any other operations with food, the business must be registered with the local council. Registering with the council is free, but you must register at least 28 days before you begin any food operations.

However, if your business handles meat, fish, eggs or dairy products (any food that comes from an animal, essentially) you may need to have your business premises inspected and approved before you can begin any food activity. If you have multiple premises, they must all be inspected.

If your business sells these products to retailers or directly to the public, you are exempt from this inspection if food accounts for less than 25% of your trade and you are not selling any food outside your registered county (provided you are not handling any wild game meat products).

Playing background music on your premises

There are two separate licences for playing background music in public – the Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) licence, and the PRS for Music licence. PRS for Music protects the copyrights of composers and publishers, while the PPL protects the copyrights of those who perform and produce recordings.

Most establishments which have music on in the background will require both of these licences. This includes shops, restaurants, nightclubs, gyms, and offices.

Even if you don’t have customers visiting your premises, you will probably still need these licences. Your employees would be considered members of the public.

The PRS for Music licence is also required if you want to have live music played on your premises.

Processing personal data

If your business processes personal data in an automated form, you may need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Personal data could include employment details of employees or information on customers or clients.

If the individual could be identified from the data that you have, it is classed as personal data. Under the Data Protection Act 1998, your business is classed as a Data Controller if it processes personal data, and must therefore be registered. You can register with ICO on their website.

Some types of organisation do not need to notify the ICO. For example, notification is not required if your business only processes personal data for staff admin or its accounts.

If you think your business may be rightfully exempt from registering, you should contact ICO to make sure.

Employing children aged 13

Employing children of this age is only allowed in some local authorities in England and Wales. Different authorities also vary with regards to what children of this age are allowed to do, and there are strict limits on how many hours they are allowed to work.

To employ a 13-year-old, you will need to contact your local council and apply for a child work permit.

To apply for this licence, you will need to provide evidence that the proposed work is not dangerous, as well as a statement from the child’s parents that he or she is fit and willing to do the work.

If the work is for the child to participate in a paid sporting event, a paid modelling assignment or a public performance (such as a play or a film), you will need to apply for a child performance licence instead. Again, this must be obtained from your local council.

Finding your licences

You can find a comprehensive Licence Finder service on GOV.UK.

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