The law regarding charitable door-to-door clothing collections

England and Wales

1939 House to House Collections Act and the1947 House to House Collections Regulations.

The licensing of Charitable Door to Door Collections is principally governed by the 1939 House to House Collections Act together with the 1947 House to House Collections Regulations.  With the exception of a limited number of major national charities which hold national exemptions issued by the Cabinet Office, the majority of charitable door to door collectors must first of all obtain a license from the relevant licensing authority.

National Exemption holders.

View the list of the Charitable Collections which currently hold national exemptions from licensing.

List of National Exemption Order holders


Granting of licenses by local authorities

Under the 1939 Act, a licencing authority may refuse to grant a Licence, or, where a Licence has been issued may revoke it, if it appears to the authority that:

  1. The total amount likely to be applied for charitable purposes as the result of the collection (including any amount already so applied) is inadequate in proportion to the value of the proceeds likely to be received (including any proceeds already received);
  2. Remuneration which is excessive in relation to the total amount aforesaid is likely to be, or has been, retained or received out of the proceeds of the collection by any person;
  3. The grant of a Licence would be likely to facilitate the commission of an offence under Section Three of the Vagrancy Act 1824, or that an offence under that section has been committed in connection with the collection;
  4. The applicant or the holder of the Licence is not a fit and proper person to hold a Licence by reason of the fact that he has been convicted in the United Kingdom of any of the offences specified in the Schedule to this Act, or has been convicted in any part of Her Majesty’s dominions of any offence conviction for which necessarily involved a finding that he acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or of an offence of a kind the commission of which would be likely to be facilitated by the grant of a Licence;
  5. The applicant or the holder of the Licence, in promoting a collection in respect of which a Licence has been granted to him, has failed to exercise due diligence to secure that persons authorised by him to act as collectors for the purposes of the collection were fit and proper persons, to secure compliance on the part of persons so authorised with the provisions of regulations made under this Act, or to prevent prescribed badges or prescribed certificates of authority being obtained by persons  other than persons so authorised; or
  6. The applicant or holder of the Licence has refused or neglected to furnish to the Authority such information as they may have reasonably required for the purpose of informing themselves as to any of the matters specified in the foregoing paragraphs

1939 House to House Collections Act

1947 House to House Collection Regulations


2006 Charities Act.

The 2006 Charities Act allows for the introduction of a new licensing regime, where all charitable collectors will have to apply for a license directly to the Charity Commission.  Licenses would be valid for a period of five years and would allow collections to take place throughout England.  There would be no need to apply for licenses for individual licensing authorities.  This part of the act has yet to be enacted.  The Cabinet Office reviewed the Act and the aspects of its implementation in 2011.  However, the situation did not change and the absence of any decision being made by the Minister for Civil Society  the licensing regime continues to be regulated by the 1939 House to House Collections Act.

Charities Act 2006


For guidance about the law in Scotland:

Charity Doorstep Collections: Making an Informed Choice PDF (download)

Northern Ireland

For guidance issued by the Charity Commission of Northern Ireland on Charity Doorstep Collections 

Guidance on Charity Doorstep Collections in Northern Ireland