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Cambridge City Council

House-to-house collection licence for charities

House-to-house collections are regulated by the House to House Collections Act 1939.

This regulation contains important provisions for the regulation of house-to-house collections for charitable purposes, and prescribe fines and/or imprisonment for offences against the regulations.

All house to house collections for a charitable purpose in Cambridge must be licensed by us, and the collectors authorised by the promoter.


Apply for a house to house collection licence

Supply a return

  • There is no cost involved.

We cannot grant a licence for more than three months, and you can only make collections one week per month. We may refuse a licence or, where we grant one, might revoke it in circumstances specified in the act.

Application forms for a licence must be sent to us at least six weeks in advance of the proposed dates of collection so criminal records checks can be carried out by the police.

Promoters and collectors

In the context of house-to-house collections, a promoter is a person who enlists others to act as collectors.

For the purpose of completing a criminal records check, the home address of the promoter is needed on the application form.

A promoter must:

  • make sure persons authorised to act as collectors are suitable to handle such responsibility
  • make sure collectors comply with the regulations
  • only allow someone to act as a collector once that person is issued with a prescribed certificate of authority and a prescribed badge - both can be obtained from HM Stationery Office
  • (if money is being collected) only use an account of the organisation they are representing, matching the account already identified in their application.

Collectors must not:

  • be under the age of 16 years
  • be over persistent in the course of collecting
  • remain at the door of any house if requested to leave by any occupant.

Waiving a need for a licence

Exemptions from the need to obtain a licence may be granted by:

  • the Home Secretary - for a collection over a wide area (the whole of England and Wales or a substantial part of it); or
  • the local police - for a local collection to be completed within a short period.

Unlicensed collections

There should be no more than two charitable collections running concurrently in any one area of Cambridge.

Charities often partner with commercial organisations to undertake collections. If you are unsure whether a collection will genuinely benefit a charity, there are a number of things you can do to check, such as:

  • look for the charity number
  • call the charity
  • call the council to see if the collection is licensed
  • look for membership of the Institute of Fundraising, the Fundraising Standards Board, or the Charity Retail Association.

Please note some collectors advertise that they collect clothing and other items for charity - but sell the items for their own gain. This practice of unlicensed collections has a serious effect on bona fide charitable collectors who have a genuine house-to-house collection licence issued by us.

Leaflets advertising unregistered collections will often include a company registration number. These companies, although registered, are not legitimate and might have been dissolved, so it is best to follow the advice above if you are unsure.

If you believe you have received such a leaflet, you should contact the Advertising Standards Agency.

If you are still unsure, you can give direct to a local charity shop instead, or donate to a charity shop collection sack. Collection sacks should make clear reference to the charity registration number and many will also carry the code of charity retailing logo.

To see who is collecting in Cambridge please refer to our calendar.