Controlled drugs: domestic licences

Information about controlled drugs licences for companies that possess, manufacture, produce or supply controlled drugs in England, Wales or Scotland.

Controlled drugs are drugs named in misuse of drugs legislation. You can check for the most common ones on the controlled drugs list. You can read the full lists in both the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and schedules 1 to 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (MDR) 2001.

If your company or organisation possesses, manufactures, produces or supplies controlled drugs in England, Wales or Scotland you will need to apply for a domestic licence (including where you are not physically handling but are directing and / or taking ownership). If you already have a licence or are about to apply, read the general security guidance and the guidelines for standard procedures.

If your company intends to, or needs a licence to, transport controlled drugs you should read the transportation security guide, before you apply.

Before you apply

To apply, you first need to register as a customer on the controlled drugs licensing system. If your application is successful, you will receive a username and password. You do not need to register again each time you apply.

If you have forgotten your login details or need your password reset, please email

You must make sure that each person named on the application form holds a valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The DBS check must be completed by Matrix Security Watchdog. You can contact them on 01420 558 752 to apply for one. If you have a DBS check by another company, we cannot accept your certificate.

If you, or anyone named on the application, already has a DBS check in place for the purpose of drug licensing dated 3 years or older from Security Watchdog you will need to apply for a new DBS check.

If you have subscribed to the DBS update service, you should include this information in your licence application.

Apply for a domestic licence

Read the application guidance to help you complete your application.

You will need to include the controlled drug user activity list with your application. It must be uploaded as a PDF document.

Please also note:

  • if you save a partially completed application form it will only stay in the portal for 5 days and will auto delete if not submitted

  • an amendment application form can only be submitted if you are in receipt of the ‘application reference’ received in an acknowledgement email and you have an application that is still under our consideration

  • after completing the application form you will have the option to generate a PDF however, you must return to the main page to press ‘submit’

  • upon submission you will receive a ‘submission reference’ - contact us if you have not had an acknowledgment email containing an ‘application reference’ after 5 days

  • if a ‘submission reference’ is not received then this would indicate that you have not submitted a successful application

Apply for a domestic licence to produce, supply or possess controlled drugs.


Our fees cover the costs of processing an application and are charged per licensing decision. The fee levels are set out in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2010. Read the full list of fees for controlled drugs licences.

After you apply

Allow up to 16 weeks for us to contact you to arrange a compliance visit, if one is required.

Please note:

  • all first time licensees, new sites and upgrades require a licensing visit
  • renewal applications will be visited every 1 to 5 years or more at our discretion
  • applications are only considered complete where all component parts of an application are correct and present
  • if there is a delay because we have asked for more information regarding your application, it will take longer than 16 weeks to contact you to book a compliance visit

If your controlled drugs licence is approved, you will receive an email with instructions for payment. We will not issue your licence until the fee is paid.

Once you have paid, the licence will be sent electronically by email.

Compliance visits

We may need to visit your company to check for compliance with controlled drugs regulations. We will only arrange a visit if everyone listed on the application has a valid DBS check.

Applications where a compliance visit is not needed

If you already hold a licence with us and we do not need to visit you, your application will be processed in 8 to 10 weeks from the point where an application acknowledgement email has been sent.

If we have asked for further information or documents, the 8 to 10 weeks will start at the point we have received all requested information and documents and the acknowledgement email has been sent.

You must confirm in writing if there have been any changes in the following areas since issuing your previous licence:

  • security arrangements

  • standard operating procedure relating to controlled drugs or precursor chemicals

  • responsible persons or guarantor (if applicable)

The following information or documentation must be supplied:

  • supporting photographs of your current controlled drug storage arrangements for example a photo of your safe open and closed, key safe or press as appropriate

  • supporting photographs of a page from your drugs register showing the most recent entries

  • an electronic copy of your latest standard operating procedure (highlighting any amendments that have taken place)

If you cancel your application

We consider how much to charge for cancellations case by case. You may be charged any costs already owed, relating to administration, travel or accommodation arrangements, if:

  • you withdraw your application after it has been accepted and work (including administrative) has commenced
  • you cancel a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
  • you request to change the time or date of a compliance visit more than 48 hours after it is confirmed
  • you cancel your application after you receive an outcome from us

We may also ask for our administrative costs to be paid within 10 working days. We can email you extra information about these costs.

University research departments

You will not usually need a licence to possess and supply controlled drugs in schedules 2 to 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.However, you will need a licence to produce any of those drugs and to also produce, possess or supply controlled drugs listed in schedule 1.

Hospitals, care homes and other healthcare providers

You may only require a licence for certain schedules and activities. This also includes social enterprise organisations, community interest companies and companies with charitable status. Read our guidance for healthcare providers.

Retail pharmacies that wholesale or supply

If you are a pharmacist undertaking a retail pharmacy business, you do not need a controlled drugs licence because certain limited licence exemptions exist in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

If you need a wholesale dealer’s licence from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) for your business, you will also need a controlled drugs domestic licence. You can contact the MHRA on to find out if you need a wholesale dealer’s licence.

Forensic analysts

If you undertake forensic analysis and/or are handling reference standards you can read the Information on controlled drug licence requirements for forensic work to find out when you need to apply for a controlled drugs licence.

Cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), other cannabinoids and cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans (CBPM)

Cannabis is a class B controlled drug listed in schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and in the Misuse of Drugs Designation Order 2015. The Home Office acts as the National Cannabis Agency, as required by the UN Convention on the control of narcotics.

You can read the guidance on the domestic control measures for cannabis, CBD and cannabinoids.

Specialist doctors can lawfully prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans listed in schedule 2 of Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 without a controlled drugs licence.

Companies that want to possess, manufacture, produce supply, import or export CBPMs need a controlled drugs licence. In some cases, limited exemptions are applied. For example, a community pharmacy that holds the product to dispense to an individual patient may not need a licence.

Cultivation of cannabis, regardless of THC content, is still an offence under section 6 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, issued under regulation 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

If you apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis materials to produce a CBPM we will consider this individually and in line with the general drug licensing risk assessment process and other regulatory considerations. You should be able to fully explain how you will meet all applicable regulatory requirements to lawfully make a product available.

The industrial hemp cultivation policy does not allow for the use of the flowers or leaves (‘green’ or controlled materials) and does not apply here.

Mountain rescue teams

You can read about your responsibilities relating to controlled drug handling in mountain rescue situations. This is for teams affiliated to Mountain Rescue England and Wales (MREW), the Scottish Mountain Rescue (SM) and the Association of Independent Scottish Mountain Rescue teams (AISMR).

Thefts and losses

You can report any theft or unaccounted losses of controlled drugs by email to using the thefts and losses form.

Licence no longer needed

If your company no longer needs a controlled drugs licence you will need to submit a controlled drugs licence return premises closure statement. Even if you continue to trade but no longer handle controlled drugs you will need to submit a statement.

Personal information

You can read details of how we handle your personal information.

Contact details

Domestic licensing


or call 0300 105 0248

This address deals with domestic (UK) controlled substance licences including precursor chemicals, applications, renewals, compliance visits, thefts and losses, surrender or returning licence, or general enquiries about domestic licensing.

Customer complaints


This address deals with customer complaints about import and export, or domestic licensing of controlled drug, precursor chemical or industrial hemp licensing. You should first attempt to resolve any issues initially with either the domestic licensing or import-export team directly using the contact details above.

Published 16 August 2019
Last updated 17 May 2024 + show all updates
  1. Changed the link for 'register as a customer on the controlled drugs licensing system' under the 'Before you apply' section.

  2. Guidance updated to give clarity to applicants who do not need a compliance visit.

  3. The section "apply for a domestic licence" has been updated with extra details.

  4. Updated visit frequency.

  5. Second paragraph amended to: 'If your company or organisation possesses, manufactures, produces or supplies controlled drugs in England, Wales or Scotland you will need to apply for a domestic licence (including where you are not physically handling but are directing and / or taking ownership).'

  6. Updated information on cancelling application.

  7. Updated "After you apply" section.

  8. Change to reflect the fact that the licence will be sent out electronically rather than by post.

  9. Licence application link reinstated.

  10. Added a message to say there are currently problems with the licence application system.

  11. First published.