Regulatory controls for radiation protection in the UK

Exemption, notification, registering and licensing of radioactive substances and radiation generators in the UK.

This guide brings together information from the various bodies across the UK who regulate the use of radioactive substances and radiation generators:

  • Department of Health
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)
  • Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)
  • UK Environment Agencies

Environmental protection is devolved, so you will need to use the link for the appropriate environment agency: the Environment Agency (for England), Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

UK-wide regulation

Department of Health

Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee (ARSAC) - application forms

These forms are for doctors or dentists who want to apply for a certificate to use radioactive medicinal products (RMP) on people (in diagnosis, therapy or research)

Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)

The Office for Nuclear Regulation is responsible for regulation of nuclear safety and security across the UK. Their mission is to provide efficient and effective regulation of the nuclear industry, holding it to account on behalf of the public.

Guidance on notification under Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulations (REPPIR)

Guidance on transporting radioactive material

GB-Wide Regulation

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Before you work with ionising radiation for the first time you will need to either

  • notify certain work involving ionising radiation to HSE
  • register certain work practices involving ionising radiation to HSE
  • obtain consent from HSE to perform specific work practices

Regulations 5, 6, and 7 of Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 place legal duties on radiation employers to obtain a written consent or registration, or to notify HSE before carrying out specified practices. Employers will notify or apply for registrations and consents using an online HSE application system. Further details can be found on the HSE website.

Regulation in England

Environment Agency

The Environment Agency was established in 1996 to protect and improve the environment. They are responsible for regulating major industry and waste, including radioactive waste.

Radioactive substances regulation for non-nuclear sites

Radioactive substances regulation for nuclear sites

Information for licensees under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965.

Import or export of radioactive waste, spent fuel or radioactive sources

Regulation in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Use the link to apply for a Certificate of Registration to keep or use sealed sources, to keep or use mobile sources and to apply for a Certificate of Authorisation to accumulate or dispose of radioactive waste.

You can also use this link to download a HASS Record Form if you hold a High-Activity Sealed Source which requires a number of extra controls.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI)

If you are going to start work with ionising radiation for the first time, you are required to notify HSENI at least 28 days before commencing work, unless your work falls into an exempt category.

Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999: Details of exempt categories

Notify HSENI that you intend to start work with ionising radiation

Regulation in Scotland

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Use the link to apply for, vary or modify an authorisation online or by post to work with radioactive substances. Before embarking on any application process, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency strongly advises that you contact them in the first instance.

Regulation in Wales

Natural Resources Wales

Use the link for guidance on radioactive substances regulation and applying for permits for Radioactive Substances sites.

Published 10 October 2016
Last updated 12 February 2018 + show all updates
  1. Under the Ionising Radiation Regulations 2017 employers must now apply to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for certain work they do with ionising radiation.

  2. First published.