Outdoor access and recreation – guidance

Camping and caravanning site exemption certificates: know the rules and how to apply

As recreational club, find out how to hold camping and caravanning events without needing a licence or planning permission.


You need a camping licence from your local authority to run a campsite - for tents only - for more than 42 consecutive days, or more than 60 days in a year.

For land to be used as a caravan site - including motorhomes - it must have a caravan licence and planning permission is usually necessary. In addition, the landowner needs planning permission to have tents or caravans on their land for more than 28 consecutive days.

Camping and caravanning clubs and recreational organisations can apply for exemption.

Exemption certificates

An exemption certificate allows recreational organisations such as hobby or leisure clubs, or the Scouts, to nominate a site for their members to camp on all year round, without applying for a licence or getting planning permission. The organisation must apply, not the landowner (unless the organisation owns the land).

Download the form to apply for or renew an exemption certificate.

Read application guidance for camping and caravanning exemption certificate (PDF, 323KB, 33 pages) for more information.

Conditions for exemption: tents, caravans and motorhomes

If you run a hobby or leisure club you can get a camping exemption certificate if:

  • you can show the campsite is well managed and kept clean
  • there is no disruption or disturbance to neighbours
  • your club is properly formed and has a constitution
  • the aim of your club includes promoting leisure activities
  • the exemption is to be used by the club and its members
  • the club can make sure members abide by the rules of the certificate

The club must:

  • have a formal code of conduct for members
  • supervise and manage all sites that members use
  • show evidence of experience of running camp sites
  • nominate a member to keep the certificate and be able to produce it when necessary
  • apply for the certificate in its own right

If you meet the above conditions, fill in the camping or touring caravan exemption form and send it to the address given on the form. You can also allow non-members to camp, providing you are supervising the site at the time and hold a paragraph 4 exemption.

The certificate is valid for a maximum of 5 years. It is issued for your club’s exclusive use and is not transferable to any other organisation.

Supervised and occupied sites (paragraph 4 exemption)

Caravan clubs can get exemption under paragraph 4 for supervised sites.

You must be on the site and:

  • have someone to supervise activity on site
  • be able to sign a legal contract with the land owner or manger
  • consult local councils before using a site - and not use a site if the council objects

There’s a voluntary limit that has been agreed with Natural England, that you spend no more than 28 days at a time at these sites. You can also allow non-members to camp at the site and attend events.

Additional powers of exempt clubs: certified sites and club meetings (paragraph 5 and 6 exemptions)

A club that already has an exemption can apply for a paragraph 5 or 6 exemption to set up a certified site or run a club meeting.

Certified sites (paragraph 5 exemption)

Clubs that hold a paragraph 5 exemption can issue their own certificates (valid for up to 1 year) to allow particular sites to be used by their members for leisure. These sites are called ‘certified locations’ or ‘certified sites’. The conditions for these sites are:

  • a maximum 5 caravans can be parked at any time
  • clubs must consult neighbours and the local council before issuing a certificate
  • each club must have a system for site inspections and for dealing with complaints from the public
  • the club must send details of the certificates it issues to the organisation in their area that issues exemption certificates

Club meetings or rallies (paragraph 6 exemption)

An exempt club may use a site for club meetings, rallies or events. These meetings must:

  • be limited to 5 days at most
  • be supervised by a member of the club
  • be open to members only

Application and renewal process: documents to include

Download camping and caravanning exemption certificate application or renewal form

For applications and renewals you must include:

  • a copy of the club’s constitution – includes purpose, and the aims that promote leisure and recreation
  • a copy of the club’s code of conduct on headed paper – and an assurance that all members abide by it at all times
  • details of branches of your club, and if they share the same constitution and rules

For new applications you must also include:

  • details of when your organisation was formed (eg minutes of the first club meeting)
  • your camping and caravanning history
  • relevant experience of organising caravan or camping events
  • names and contact details for at least 2 previous site you have used

It can take up to 6 weeks to get your licence if this is your first application.

Where to send your form

Clubs based in England

Camping and Caravanning Exemptions Team
First Floor Zone C
Natural England
Shaftesbury Road

Telephone: Sharon Sharpe on 0300 0602098 or Paul Ackers on 0300 0601081
Email: caravan.camping@naturalengland.org.uk

Clubs based in Scotland

The Scottish Government
Directorate of Housing
Regeneration & Welfare
Housing Options & Policy Unit
Area 1H South
Victoria Quay

Telephone: 0131 244 5566
Email: ged.millar@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Clubs based in Wales

The Welsh Government - Decisions Branch
Planning Division
Welsh Assembly Government
Cathay’s Park
CF10 3NQ

Telephone: 029 2082 3883
Email: nicholas.iles@wales.gsi.gov.uk

If you need a certificate for more than 1 part of the country your application and documents will be copied to the relevant office.

Clubs based in Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Isles of Scilly

These certificates cannot be used in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Isles of Scilly.

Clubs based in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland operates a similar, but entirely separate system. For further information contact them:

Telephone: 02890 416966

Policy and Legislation Unit
Planning Services Headquarters
Millennium House
17-25 Great Victoria Street

List of exempt clubs

View list of camping organisations with exemption certificates: September 2014 (PDF, 197KB, 7 pages) .
View list of caravan organisations with exemption certificates: September 2014 (PDF, 379KB, 10 pages) .

Loss of exemption certificate rights

Your local authority can remove your exemption. This means in future your club would need planning permission to use the site. They can do this if they receive complaints about a site, or objections to it being used for caravanning or camping.

They must advertise details in the London Gazette or a local newspaper for the area of the site. The adverts must appear 3 months before the order takes effect.

Make a complaint

Make complaints about loss of exemption directly to your club. If you are not happy with the response, contact your local planning authority. Contact the following teams:

  • noise complaints – environmental health department
  • planning complaints – planning enforcement department

Send details of your complaint with the name of the club to Natural England, so they can take action.