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Overview

You must have a licence if you’re moving, clamping and demanding release charges for vehicles in Northern Ireland.

You need a Vehicle Immobilisers licence in Northern Ireland if you undertake any of the following activities:

  • moving a vehicle by any means
  • restriction of movement of a vehicle by any means (including the immobilisation of a vehicle by attaching a device to it) 
  • release of a vehicle which has been moved or restricted, where release is effected by returning the vehicle to the person who was otherwise entitled to remove it, by removing any restriction on the movement of the vehicle by removing the device or by any other means 
  • demanding or collection a charge as a condition of any release of or for the removal of the device from a vehicle

Conditions

Vehicle immobiliser activity only applies:

  • to activities carried out for the purpose of preventing or inhibiting the removal of a vehicle by a person otherwise entitled to remove it
  • where it is proposed to impose a charge for the release of the vehicle
  • to any activities carried out in relation to a vehicle while it is elsewhere than on a road within the meaning of the Road Traffic Act 1988

This licence requirement applies to anyone, eg land occupiers, in-house employees, staff supplied for the purposes of or in connection with any contract to a consumer or volunteers.

There are certain exclusions, refer to paragraphs 2 and 3A of Schedule 2 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001 for full details.

There are 2 types of Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence:

  • a front line licence required if undertaking licensable activity
  • a non-front line licence required for those responsible for the management, supervision, and/or employment of individuals who engage in licensable activity, as long as front-line activity is not carried out - this includes directors or partners

How to apply

To obtain your licence you must be at least 18 years of age, and you must pass an identity check, a criminal record check, and hold the appropriate SIA-approved qualification.

You can apply for a licence online or download an application form from the SIA website.

The licence application fee is £220 for a 1 year licence (front-line) or a 3 year licence (non front-line).

Fines and penalties

If you operate without a licence you can be sent to prison for up to 6 months and/or fined £5,000.

Further information

It’s an offence to clamp, tow, block in or otherwise immobilise a vehicle without ‘lawful authority’ in England and Wales. Examples of those with ‘lawful authority’ to immobilise or remove vehicles are:

  • local councils or police
  • statutory authorities, like the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • certified bailiffs