Guidance

Apply for an SIA licence

What to do before you apply, and how to apply for a licence yourself or through your employer.

This page describes what you must do to apply for any of these SIA licences:

  • Cash and valuables in transit
  • Close protection
  • Door supervision
  • Key holding
  • Non-front line
  • Public space surveillance (CCTV)
  • Security guarding
  • Vehicle immobilisation (Northern Ireland only)

Applying for a licence does not mean you will get one. To be successful, you will need to pass all of our application checks.

But you can help your application by taking care to provide correct and complete information whenever we ask for it.

Get ready for our application checks

When we get your application for an SIA licence, we will run checks on your information. These are to confirm your identity and make sure you are suitable to hold a licence.

Before you start your application, please make sure:

  • you have all the information you need for our checks
  • you are likely to pass the checks (for example – you have the right qualification)

Being prepared can save you time, and even money, during the application process. The licence fee is not refundable. This means that you will not get your money back if your application is not successful.

Identity

You will need to provide documents that prove you are who you say you are.

Address history

You need to provide details of all the addresses you have lived at during the last 5 years.

We use this information for our identity and criminal record checks.

If you live in the UK, our system will automatically check your current address. If this check does not confirm that you live at this address, we ask you to provide documents to prove that you live there.

Age

You must be 18 or over to hold an SIA licence.

Qualifications

You must have a ‘licence-linked’ qualification before you can apply for a front line licence.

You do not need a licence-linked qualification to get a non-front line licence or a key holding licence.

Read more about training for a licence-linked qualification.

Criminal record

You need to pass our criminal record checks.

If you live outside the UK, or you have spent 6 continuous months or more outside the UK in the last 5 years, you need to provide evidence of overseas criminal record checks.

Right to work in the UK

In most cases, you must have the right to work in the UK to get a front line or non-front line licence.

All UK citizens have the right to work in the UK. If you are not a UK citizen, we check your right to work.

You may not be able to get a licence if our check shows:

  • your right to work in the UK has run out
  • you are waiting to get the right to work in the UK

In these cases, we ask you to send us evidence of a valid right to work in the UK. If we do not get this within 21 days, we will cancel your application.

If you do not have the right to work in the UK but you are a director of a UK-registered company (or one of its parent companies), we may allow you to hold a non-front line licence.

Mental health

When you apply for an SIA licence, we ask you if you have been compulsorily detained, or subject to any compulsory measures (such as a community treatment order), under the Mental Health Act in the last 5 years.

If you answer yes to this question, we ask you to provide contact details for 1 of the following:

  • a psychiatrist or psychologist who is treating you
  • a general practitioner (GP) who is in regular contact with you and monitoring your condition

We then contact this medical professional to ask for a medical report about your condition and any treatment you are getting for it. Once we get the report, we will look at how it affects your application.

For example, the report might recommend that a medical professional reviews your condition regularly. If so, we may say that you can hold an SIA licence as long as this medical professional gives us a regular report on your condition.

Other information we look at

We also look at any other information we hold about you.

This might be information given to us by the organisations we work with, such as the police, HM Revenue and Customs, other regulators, local authorities, and private security companies.

It might be information from our own sources, such as:

  • any previous warnings we have given you
  • county court judgements
  • fixed penalty notices and penalty notices for disorder
  • CCTV footage
  • social media
  • news reports
  • reports from Crimestoppers
  • reports from members of the public

We check if this information shows:

  • any relevant criminal activity
  • any links to criminal activity
  • any anti-social behaviour
  • any failure to comply with SIA licence-linked training
  • any failure to comply with the Private Security Industry Act 2001
  • any activity that might give the private security industry a bad reputation
  • that you have knowingly or recklessly misled a government body
  • that you are not suitable to hold a licence

Check you have the right documents to prove your identity

During the application process, you need to provide documents to prove your identity.

We suggest that you check you have the right identity documents before you start your application.

You will need to give us each of the following:

Each document should be the original, physical document. We will not accept a scan or photocopy – unless we have told you that we will accept a notarised copy.

If any of your documents are not in English, you must give us both:

  • the original document
  • an English-language translation from an approved translator

You need to arrange the translation of your document into English and pay any costs.

We only accept translations from the following:

Group A documents

You need to provide 1 document from group A.

We accept:

  • a passport that is signed, current, and valid
  • a driving licence photocard issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK
  • a driving licence photocard and its paper counterpart issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland
  • a UK original birth certificate issued within 12 months of birth
  • a UK biometric residence permit card

Group B documents

You need to provide 2 documents from group B. Each of these documents must show your current address.

Unless we say otherwise, we will not accept 2 of the same type of document. For example, we will not accept 2 council tax statements. we will only accept 1 council tax statement and 1 document of a different type.

We will accept:

  • a bank or building society statement from the last 3 months (we will accept 2 statements, but only if they are from different banks or building societies)
  • a utility bill from the last 3 months (we will accept gas, electric, telephone landline, water, satellite TV or cable TV bills but not mobile phone bills)
  • a credit card statement from the last 3 months (we will accept 2 statements, but only if they are from different credit-card providers)
  • a council tax statement from the last 12 months
  • a mortgage statement from the last 12 months
  • a letter from the last 3 months from any of the following:
    • HM Revenue and Customs
    • the Department of Work and Pensions
    • a Jobcentre Plus – or any other employment service
    • a local authority
  • a P45 or P60 tax statement from the last 12 months
  • a paper version of a current UK driving licence (not the paper counterpart to a photocard)
  • a driving licence photocard issued by the DVA in Northern Ireland (not the paper counterpart)
  • a pension, endowment or ISA statement from the last 12 months
  • a valid UK firearms licence with photo

Photo of yourself

We need to have a passport-style photo of you so that we can:

  • check it against the photo in your group A identity document
  • include it on your SIA licence photocard, if you are applying for a front-line licence

If we ask you to take your identity documents to:

  • a UK Post Office, a member of staff at the Post Office will take this photo for you
  • your employer, they will take this photo for you

In some situations, we may ask you to send us a photo. If we do, the photo must be:

  • in colour (not black and white)
  • clear and in focus
  • a true likeness of you
  • a close-up of your full head and upper shoulders
  • taken against a white or cream background
  • not changed using computer software

In the photo, you must:

  • be facing forwards and looking straight at the camera
  • have a plain expression, with your mouth closed
  • have your eyes open and visible
  • not have hair in front of your eyes
  • not have a head covering (unless it’s for religious or medical reasons)
  • not have anything covering your face
  • not wear sunglasses or darkened lenses (you can wear clear glasses)
  • not have any shadows on your face or behind you

If we ask you to send identity documents to us

If we ask you to send identity documents to us, we will tell you how to do this and where to send the documents. we will return them as soon as possible.

Do not send us any documents that you need in the near future. For example, do not send us your passport if you will need it to travel abroad in the next month.

In some situations, it may not be possible for you to send us your passport – for example, if it’s against the law to send your passport outside of your home country. If so, you should let us know. If we agree, we may ask you to send us a ‘notarised’ copy of your passport from an accredited notary in the country in which you live.

A notary is a type of lawyer who has the authority to say that certain documents are real and authentic. If you send us a notarised copy of your passport, you must include a signed and dated letter from the notary.

We will not accept a notarised copy of your passport if the reason you want to send it is because you need your actual passport for travel.

Check you can afford the licence fee (if you are applying for a licence yourself)

It costs £190 to apply for 1 licence.

All licences last for 3 years – except for a vehicle immobiliser licence, which lasts for 1 year.

You may need to apply for more than 1 licence. If so, we will apply a discount of 50% to the additional licences. This means that:

  • the first licence will cost £190
  • each other licence will cost £95

We apply the discount for additional licences in different sectors. We do not apply the discount if you are renewing a licence for the same sector.

If you already hold a licence and you apply for another one in a different sector, both of the following conditions must be met for us to apply the discount:

  • you paid the full fee of £190 for your existing licence
  • your existing licence must have more than 4 months left to run

The discount does not apply to a vehicle immobiliser licence, which always costs £190.

Once you have completed and submitted your application, we will ask you to pay the licence fee.

Alternatively, if your employer or another organisation has agreed to pay your licence fee for you, we will contact them for payment.

We must receive full payment of the licence fee before we will process your application. We will not accept payment:

  • in instalments
  • after we have decided whether to give your licence or not

Please remember that the payment is not refundable. This means we will not refund the payment in any situation. For example, we will not give your money back if we need to cancel your application because you gave us wrong information.

Apply for a licence yourself

You can apply for an SIA licence yourself – or your employer may agree to apply for you.

If you decide to apply for a licence yourself, you need to do the following:

  1. Create an SIA online account.
  2. Complete and submit an application form through your online SIA account.
  3. Complete the next steps of your application, such as giving us documents that prove who you are and paying the licence fee (if you are paying this yourself).

Sometimes an organisation may pay the licence fee for you. For example, your employer might agree to do this, or a training provider or back to work scheme.

If so, you need to link your SIA online account with their account. To do this, you need to ask them to send you a request to link with their account. you will then receive an email with instructions on how to give your permission to link accounts.

Complete and submit an application form

To start your application, log in to your SIA online account.

Select ‘start a new application’. This will take you to the licence application form.

You must complete all 9 sections of the form before you can submit your application.

In section 1 of the form, you need to consent (agree) to us checking your identity and criminal record. You need to agree to this first before you can complete the rest of the form.

Read more about the checks we do and the information you will need to provide for them.

You can complete sections 2 to 8 of the form in any order you want. You can also save any information you put in the form in case you want to return it at another time.

Once you complete sections 2 to 8, we recommend taking some time to check that the information you have given is correct and complete. Once you submit your application form, you will not be able to change the information you have given.

Wrong or incomplete information can cause delays in your application. Read more about the things that can affect the speed of your application.

The final section of the form (section 9) is a declaration that the information you have given us in the rest of the form is true and complete. Read this declaration carefully. If you have completed the rest of the form and you are happy to agree to the declaration, tick ‘I agree’ and submit your application.

If you are applying for a front line licence , you must have the correct qualification to be able to submit your application. Read more about the training you need for an SIA licence.

Complete the next steps of your application

Once you have completed and submitted your application form, we will send you a ‘next steps’ message. This will tell you:

  • your application reference number
  • what you need to do next

We may also send you a ‘further information request’ at a later point.

You must follow all of the instructions in these messages. If you do not, we will not be able to complete our application checks. This means that your application will not move to the next stage.

If you live in the UK, the next steps message will usually ask you to go to a Post Office to continue your application. A member of staff at the Post Office will:

If you are paying your own licence fee, we will usually ask you to pay this at the Post Office at the same time as you show your identity documents.

You can use the Post Office branch finder to find a Post Office near to you. Check that it handles SIA licence applications before you go.

If you have spent more than 6 continuous months outside of the UK in the last 5 years, we will also ask you to send us evidence of overseas criminal record checks.

If you live outside the UK

If you live outside of the UK, the next steps message will usually ask you to send us:

If you are paying your own licence fee, we will tell you how to pay this online with a credit or debit card.

If you have spent time in more than 1 country outside of the UK in the last 5 years, we may also need you to send us overseas criminal record checks for some or all of these countries.

Apply through your employer

Your employer may agree to apply for a licence on your behalf. They can only do this if they are an SIA approved contractor.

If your employer applies on your behalf, you will not need to:

  • complete and submit an online application
  • pay your licence fee

This is because your employer will do these things for you.

You will need to do the following:

  1. Create an online SIA account.
  2. Link your online SIA account with your employer’s account.
  3. Follow the next steps instructions for your application, which includes providing documents that prove your identity.

Once you have created your online SIA account, ask your employer to send you a request to link with their account. you will then receive an email with instructions on how to give your permission to link accounts.

Complete the next steps of your application

Once your employer has completed and submitted your application form, we will send you a ‘next steps’ message. This will tell you:

  • your application reference number
  • what you need to do next

We may also send you a ‘further information request’ at a later point.

You must follow all of the instructions in these messages. If you do not, we will not be able to complete our application checks – and your application will not move to the next stage.

If the next steps message tells you to go to a Post Office, a member of staff there will:

You can use the Post Office branch finder to find a Post Office near to you. Check that it handles SIA licence applications before you go.

If the next steps message tells you to go to your employer, they will:

If you have spent more than 6 continuous months outside of the UK in the last 5 years, we will also ask you to send us evidence of overseas criminal record checks.

If you live outside the UK

If you live outside of the UK, the next steps message will usually ask you to send us:

If you have spent time in more than 1 country outside of the UK in the last 5 years, we may also need you to send us overseas criminal record checks for some or all of these countries.

Check how long your application will take

We cannot tell you exactly how long your application will take. This is because there are many different things that can affect the speed of your application.

But if you’d like to get an estimate of how long your application will take, you can use our decision timescale indicator.

The result you get depends on the information you enter – it does not guarantee how long your application will take.

Use the decision timescale indicator.

You can also check on the status of your application. You can do this by logging in to your online account and looking at ‘my applications’. If your status displays as:

  • ‘next steps’ – you must follow the instructions in your next steps message to continue with your application
  • ‘checks in progress’ – we are running our checks on your application
  • ‘decision made’ – we have made a decision about your application

We may send you a further information request during the ‘next steps’ or ‘checks in progress’ stage. You need to follow the instructions in this request to continue with your application.

Things that can affect the speed of your application

Your actions make the biggest difference to the speed of your application.

You can help to prevent delays by:

  • providing complete and correct information in your licence application form
  • following all the instructions in our next steps messages and further information requests

Other things that can affect the speed of your application include:

  • your address history (for example, if you have lived outside the UK, we may need an overseas criminal record check)
  • your criminal record (if you have one), because we need to look at what’s on your record and decide if you are suitable to hold a licence
  • whether you have charges that are awaiting a trial in court – because we will need to wait for the result of the court case before we can decide whether to give you a licence
  • whether we need to check your right to work in the UK
  • the number of applications we are currently processing
  • the response time of organisations we work with (for example, the organisations we use to check your UK criminal record)
  • whether your employer pays your licence fee in good time, if they are paying it for you

What happens when we have made our decision

Once we have completed our checks, we will make a decision about your licence application.

We then send you a letter in the post to let you know. you will also be able to access this letter in your online SIA account.

Read more about what happens if:

Published 20 October 2020
Last updated 5 September 2022 + show all updates
  1. Amended the 'Photo of yourself' section to remove the instructions to have the photo counter-signed. A counter-signatory is not required in all circumstances, so this information was potentially confusing. The instructions we send to the applicant make it clear if we need the photo to be counter-signed.

  2. Added a list of the SIA licences people can apply for.

  3. Updated the list of acceptable group B documents to make it clear that we do not accept mobile phone bills.

  4. Updated the 'Check you can afford the licence fee (if you are applying for a licence yourself)' section to include more detail on when we apply the 50% discount.

  5. Updated the 'Right to work in the UK' section to reflect the fact that the UK has left the the EU.

  6. Amended the 'Other information we look at' section to make it clear that we consider information from a wide variety of sources. We have also clarified what we mean by "information" in this context.

  7. The link to the decision timescale indicator was updated - https://www.services.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/licensing-dti.aspx

  8. First published.