Scrap Metal Dealers

The Scrap Metal Dealer’s Act 2013 was designed primarily to cut down on scrap metal theft by requiring site and collection operators to register and maintain specific records and making it an offence to buy scrap metal for cash.

Scrap metal is defined as:

  • any old, waste or discarded metal or metallic material, and
  • any product, article or assembly which is made from or contains metal and is broken, worn out or regarded by its last holder as having reached the end of its useful life.

In theory, it therefore includes WEEE.

A scrap metal dealer is defined as a person that
(a) carries on a business which consists wholly or partly in buying or selling scrap metal, whether or not the metal is sold in the form in which it was bought, or
(b) carries on business as a motor salvage operator (so far as that does not fall within paragraph (a)).

Brokers and dealers who purchase but never physically receive scrap metal are also therefore classed as Scrap Metal Dealers.

A mobile collector is a person who 
(a) carries on business as a scrap metal dealer otherwise than at a site, and 
(b) regularly engages, in the course of that business, in collecting waste materials and old, broken, worn out or defaced articles by means of visits from door to door 

Scrap metal dealers are required to obtain a licence from their local authority. This entitles them to then collect from sites outside their local authority area unless they intend to operate like a mobile collector in (b) above in which case they must also register with the collection area’s local authority. GOV.UK now contains an online application process. (Different for Scotland)

A broker, dealer or agent who never physically receives scrap metal but who deals in scrap metal is classed as a Scrap Metal Dealer and must obtain a licence from the local authority in whose area they operate from.

It is assumed that any collections carried out on their behalf are covered by their licence.

Mobile collectors must obtain a licence from each local authority whose area they operate in.

A licence lasts for 3 years unless revoked. Local authorities are free to charge what they wish.

The environment Agencies are required to maintain public registers of Scrap Metal Dealers.

Supplementary Guidance


BMRA Guidance