Public charitable collections licence

Public charitable collections guidance

This information is for guidance only. You should get your own legal advice before you apply for a public charitable collections licence.

Public charitable collections are ruled by section 119 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984, any exemption directions made by the Secretary of State, as well as what we decide.

When do I need permission to hold a public charitable collection?

You will need permission to hold a public charitable collection if you are collecting money from the public for charity and includes collections from streets and houses.

If you organise a public charitable collection in South Lanarkshire without our permission, you will be committing an offence and you may be fined.

However, you may be able to get permission from the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State is happy that you are collecting for a genuine charity, in all or in a large part of Scotland, then they may give you special permission to do so. However, the Secretary of State may take that permission away.

If the Secretary of State gives you permission to collect you can ask for particular dates however you must give us at least three months’ notice of your intention to hold a public charitable collection in the South Lanarkshire area.

You must send a ‘notice to collect’ to the Licensing and Registration office.

You need to apply for permission no later than:

  • one month before the collection; or
  • within the period set (in exceptional circumstances)

If you apply for permission less than one month before the collection date, we will do our best to process your application by the collection date. However, we can’t guarantee this.

What happens to my application when I apply for permission?

You will receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your application.

Three months before the collection is due to start, we will:

  • speak to the Chief Constable, unless you have permission from the Secretary of State; and
  • possibly make other relevant enquiries unless you have permission from the Secretary of State.  If you do not respond to police enquiries, we will send you a letter asking you to contact Police Scotland

If permission is granted will there be conditions I have to meet?

We will contact you when we are ready to give you a permit.  You will receive the permission, a statement by the organiser and a report by the auditor.  We will also notify Police Scotland.

When we give you permission, we may include conditions that we think are relevant to the local circumstances in which the collection is to be held.  We may give permission for a collection depending on conditions which will relate to:

  • the date, time or length of the collection
  • the area the collection is going to take place in
  • how the collection will be carried out
  • collection boxes/other containers; and
  • any other items that are going to be used for the collection and any other matters relating to the local circumstances of the collection

We do not normally allow public charitable collections to take place on a Sunday in the South Lanarkshire area.

What happens if I am refused permission?

We may refuse permission for a collection for any of the following reasons:

  • the date, time, length or area of the collection will take place in would cause inconvenience to the public
  • there is another collection taking place at the same time
  • we think that charity is already likely to collect enough money
  • you, as organiser of the collection, have been convicted of an offence:
  1. under section 5 of the Police, Factories etc.  (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1916
  2. under the House to House Collections Act 1939
  3. under the Public Charitable Collection (Scotland) Regulations 1984 or any other version of that regulation
  4. which involves dishonesty; or by giving permission it could help further offences to be committed.

Before we refuse an application, we may need you to go to a hearing to give further details of the proposed collections.  The relevant part of the council will send the refusal of permission in writing.  This will include a statement of our reasons for the refusal.

Taking permission away or changing it

If we think you have broken, or that you are likely to break, the conditions of your permit, we may withdraw our permission.

If we think there has been a change of circumstances after we have given you a permit that we are not happy with, we may either withdraw your permit or change the conditions of the permit. If we withdraw your permit or change a condition on it, we will write to you to let you know, and tell you why we’ve made the decision.

Can I appeal if I am refused permission or my permission is withdrawn?

You should get your own legal advice before you consider an appeal.

You can appeal to the sheriff, at the Sheriff Court, against our decision if

  • permission for a collection is refused
  • permission for a collection is withdrawn
  • the conditions of permission are changed; or
  • a condition to the permission is added.

You can make an appeal within 14 days of the date of our decision.

If the sheriff upholds your appeal, they may either refer the case to us to reconsider, or reverse or reconsider our decision.

Do I need to do anything after I submit my application?

You must appoint either a qualified accountant or an independent responsible person to act as the auditor of the collection.

If you are given permission by the Secretary of State, you must appoint a qualified accountant as auditor of all collections.

You can appoint an agent to carry out certain responsibilities relating to the collection.

If you appoint an agent, you must make sure that they can carry out those responsibilities.

You must make sure that any agent, collector or anyone else involved with the collection keeps to the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984, and the conditions set by us, a sheriff or the Secretary of State.  If you don’t do this, you will be guilty of an offence and you may have to pay a fine for each offence.

As an organiser what conditions do I have to meet?

Collector’s certificate of authority

You, or your agent, must give each collector a certificate of authority that shows:

  • the organiser’s name and address
  • the collector’s name and address
  • the name of the charity the collection is for
  • the area where the collector can collect
  • the period when the collector may collect
  • the collector’s signature; and
  • the organiser’s or their agent’s signature (if signed by an agent, the agent’s name and address must be included)

Envelopes and collecting boxes

As an organiser, you must:

  • give each collector a supply of envelopes (if you are using envelopes for the collection)
  • give a collecting box (with a unique number on it) to each collector if you are not using envelopes for the collection; and
  • record the name and address of each collector, and either the number of envelopes or the unique number on the collecting box given to them


You must make sure the collectors are:

  • at least 14 years old (for a street collection)
  • at least 16 years old (for a house collection)
  • a fit and proper person to act as a collectors, and
  • aware of your responsibilities in keeping with the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984, and any conditions we, a Sheriff or the Secretary of State set

Collector’s responsibilities

As a collector, you must:

  • have a certificate of authority
  • display a badge showing the name of the charity
  • show your certificate of authority to any that needs to see it
  • in an envelope collection, accept only sealed envelopes
  • for a non-envelope collection, accept contributions in a collecting box
  • not harass anyone
  • not stay in anyone’s house or at their door if they ask you to leave; and
  • give back your certificate of authority, collecting box or unopened envelopes to the organiser, or your agent, when you are asked for them or if you stop working as a collector

Opening envelopes and collecting boxes

Envelopes and collecting boxes should only be opened by the organiser or his agent, who must be:

  • with another responsible person
  • a bank official if they are delivered unopened to a bank

Anyone opening envelopes must:

  • record the number of envelopes returned by each collector
  • record how much money is in them; and
  • give the information to the organiser

Anyone opening collecting boxes must:

  • record the number on each box
  • record the amount of money in each box; and
  • give the information to the organiser

We may, in keeping with a condition we put in place under S119(5) of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, need a list showing how many envelopes each collector had and how many they returned. Or, we will want a list showing the different numbers of each collection box and, for each box not opened by a bank official, the amount collected in each collection box.

Do I need to submit a statement of accounts?

As an organiser, you must send the accounts of the collection along with your statement and a report by the auditor, to the Licensing Office within one month of the last date the collection was allowed.  If we don’t get any of the above, we will send a letter to you asking for your statement.  If you do not respond, we will send a letter to Police Scotland.

The accounts, statement and report must keep to regulation 11 of the Public Charitable Collections (Scotland) Regulations 1984 as amended.

As organiser, you must keep all vouchers, receipts and other papers relating to the collection for two years after you send the accounts for a collection to the Legal Services Manager.
We may need to see those vouchers and any more information or explanation we ask for about any collection.

If you don’t keep to regulation 11, you will be guilty of an offence and you may have to pay a fine for each offence.

Publishing a summary of accounts

As organiser, you must publish a summary of the accounts of a collection in one or more newspapers in the area or areas where the collection was carried out. You must do this within one month of sending the accounts to the Legal Services Manager.

If a collection is carried out in our area, we may not ask you to publish a summary of the accounts of a collection. We may make the summary of the accounts available for members of the public to look at for a reasonable period of time.

The summary of accounts must include:

  • the name of the person who organised the collection
  • the amount of money that was collected
  • the cost of the collection
  • the name of the fund or charity that has benefited from the collection, and the amount that each fund or charity has been paid from the proceeds of the collection

If you don’t keep to these rules, you will be guilty of an offence and you may have to pay a fine for each offence.

Related content

  1. Public charitable collections licence
  2. Public charitable collections guidance