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House to house collection

A permit is required to undertake a 'house to house' collection, under the House to House Collections Act 1939.

A house to house collection permit can be granted for any period up to one year. There is a requirement for the promoter of the collection to make a return following the collection.

Collections generally take place from door to door or from one public house to another.

Some of the larger well-known charities such as Christian Aid, Help the Aged etc. have a Charity Commission exemption from having to apply for a permit, but by and large most of the smaller, and particularly local groups and organisations need a permit before they can collect money (or articles which they intend to sell later), from door to door.

There is a statutory right of appeal against the refusal to grant a house to house collection permit. In this case, the right of appeal is to the Secretary of State, and the grounds for refusal are set out in the Act itself.

One of the key grounds for refusal would be where the total amount likely to be applied for charitable purpose as a result of the collection, is inadequate in proportion to the value of the proceeds likely to be received. So, for instance, where an applicant intends to claim a fair proportion of the proceeds of the collection for expenses, a permit could be refused. There is no statutory guidance to local authorities on what would be a reasonable amount for expenses.

The collector should be issued with the following before any collection can take place:

  • prescribed certificate of authority

  • a prescribed badge

  • a collecting box, marked if money to be collected

  • a receipt book (with receipts and counterfoils or duplicates consecutively numbered) marked on the every receipt with general indication of the purpose of the collection and a distinguishing number.

No person under the age of 16 should act as a collector of money.

How to access the service

For information about how to obtain a licence for House to House Collection please visit the House to House section of the Metropolitan Police website or contact them direct at TP HQ, Charities, Room 443, Victoria Embankment, Westminster, London SW1A 2JL (tel: 020 7321 7129).