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Wednesday, April 6, 2022 - 15:26

In general, you can start a small business without a business license. You would need to register as self-employed, choose a business structure and register for self-assessment with the HMRC. 

There are some specialised business activities that require business licenses, these include:

How To Check If You Need a License

There are a number of business licenses that will be specific to your business activities. The best way to check what you need is to use the’s license finder. The tool allows you to enter your specific business activities and lists the licenses that you need. 

Who Grants UK Business Licenses

Small business licenses are generally granted by the individual local authorities. License finder will help you find your local authority based on your postcode. 

Special Licenses

Alcohol Licensing

If you want to sell or supply alcohol you need an alcohol license. You may need both a premises license and a personal license. Check for detailed information.

Public Music

To play recorded music in public you need a license from PPL PRS, the licensing body for music in the UK. 


A tv license is required for businesses that have a television, even if it’s mute in the background.


For CCTV on your site, you must contact The Security Industry Authority for a license.

Financial Services

For certain financial activities, such as lending money or recovering debts, you will need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For any financial business services seek guidance from the FCA directly. 

Door to Door Sales

If you sell products or services door to door you need a Pedlar’s certificate.


To run a childcare business, you will need to apply for a license from your government body:

Ofsted in England

Care Inspectorate in Scotland

Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales

Health and Social Care Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority in Northern Ireland

Temporary Licenses

Temporary licenses are available for street parties or other one-off events. With these events, you will need a license to sell alcohol and food after 11pm. Alcohol may be provided as a raffle prize but there are limitations to what people can win, check with your local council. If your raffle prizes equate to more than £500, tell your council as you may have to register it as a lottery.

How Much Does a Business License Cost?

The cost of a business license depends on the type of license you require. There are some other factors that may affect the cost. 

A fee for a premises license is based on the relatable value of the business premises, fees range from £100 to £1,905. Local authorities set the costs for their licenses. 

Health and Safety

Whether or not your business requires a business license you may still need specific health and safety licenses, depending on the nature of your work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also grants permissions and licences for specific business activities.

What Happens If I Don’t Get a License?

Without the correct licenses, you can be fined or imprisoned. This can also occur if you do not follow the terms of the license. Your business can be shut down and you may not be able to apply for these licenses again. 

This is the tip of the iceberg in reference to the types of licenses a business may need, always check your personal business license requirements with license finder

For advice and information on business licenses refer to our blog or read further information about our services. CBM can also be contacted via the contact form on our website or call our expert team on 01604 420 420.

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