Social clubs: get an exemption to camp without a licence
Recreational organisations like caravan clubs or the Scouts can apply for an exemption to camp without a licence or planning permission.
This allows you to camp for up to:
- 60 days in a year
- 42 days consecutively in a year
There are 2 main types of exemption certificate:
- camping exemption certificates - for tents only
- caravan exemption certificates - for caravans, campervans and motorhomes only
You’ll need both certificates if you want to allow tents and caravans to use the site at the same time.
Eligibility for an exemption
Your club is eligible for an exemption if:
- it’s properly formed and has a constitution
- the aims of your club include promoting leisure activities
- the certificate will only be used by your club and its members
- you can make sure members will abide by the rules of the certificate
Your club also needs to:
- have a formal code of conduct for your members
- show evidence of experience in running campsites
- supervise and manage all sites that members use
- nominate a member to keep the exemption certificate and be able to produce it when necessary
For the camping exemption, you’ll also need to show:
- that the campsite will be well managed and kept clean
- there’ll be no disturbance to neighbours
Your local council can remove your exemption, for example if they receive complaints.
How to apply
Complete the application form stating which type of exemption you want.
You can also use this form to renew an existing exemption.
Send the following documents with your application or request to renew:
- a copy of the club’s constitution - including its purpose and the aims that promote leisure and recreation
- a copy of the club’s code of conduct on headed paper - include a statement that all members follow it
- details of club branches, and whether they share the same constitution and rules
Include these details if you’re applying for the first time:
- details of when your organisation was formed (such as minutes of the first meeting)
- your camping and caravanning history
- relevant experience of organising caravan or camping events
- names and contact details for at least 2 sites you have used previously
It can take up to 6 weeks to get your exemption certificate if this is your first application.
The certificate is free and it’s valid for 5 years.
You can’t transfer a certificate to any other organisation.
Where to send your form
If you need a certificate for more than one country (for example England and Wales) you only need to send your application and documents to one office.
Clubs based in England
Camping and caravanning exemptions team
First floor zone C
Telephone: 020 802 65953
Clubs based in Scotland
The Scottish Government
Directorate of housing
Regeneration and welfare
Housing options and policy unit
Area 1H South
Telephone: 0131 244 5566
Clubs based in Wales
The Welsh Government - decisions branch
Welsh Assembly Government
Telephone: 029 2082 3883
Caravan club exemptions
There are 3 types of exemption for caravan clubs. You’ll need to state which exemption you want in your application form.
Supervised and occupied sites exemption
This is known as a paragraph 4 exemption.
This exemption allows you (for up to 28 days) to:
- use the site
- let non-members bring and stay in their own caravan (if agreed with the landowner)
To be eligible for this type of exemption, you need to:
- have someone to supervise the site
- be able to sign a legal contract with the landowner or manager
- consult local councils and planning authorities before using a site - and not use a site if the council objects
Approved sites exemption
This is known as a paragraph 5 exemption.
With this exemption, your organisation can select sites for its members to stay on, by issuing certificates to the landowner or occupier. These certificates are valid for up to one year.
Non-members are allowed to stay on the site if your club and the landowner agree to it.
You’ll need to:
- set a maximum limit of 5 caravans at a time for each site
- have a system for consulting neighbours and the local licensing authority (Natural England, or the Scottish or Welsh governments) before issuing a certificate
- have a system for inspecting the sites and dealing with complaints from the public
- send copies of the certificates you issue to Natural England, or the Scottish or Welsh governments (depending on where your club is based)
Club meetings or rallies exemption
This is known as a paragraph 6 exemption.
With this exemption, your club can use a site for club meetings, rallies or events. These meetings need to:
- last no longer than 5 days
- be supervised by a member of the club
- be open to members only
Clubs based outside mainland England or Wales
Exemption certificates don’t apply in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Isles of Scilly.
In Scotland there’s no camping exemption, but you can apply for a caravan exemption.
Northern Ireland has a separate system for exemptions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current exemption holders
Find out which clubs have exemption certificates: