Products & Operations


What is licensing?
A licence to run a business (or part of a business) may be required for certain types of businesses. It will usually be the District Council that is the Licensing Authority. Without a licence you cannot trade (for the part of the business for which a licence is required). Once a premises licence has been granted, it remains on the premises until you wish to surrender it or it can be transferred to another body. There will be an annual charge to the Licensing Authority.

What type of businesses need a licence?
Alcohol, Entertainment, Gambling Licenses, Market/mobile trading & street cafes, Drivers of private hire vehicles, Animal boarding, Animal breeding, Pet shops & Zoos, Operating a horse riding establishment, Keeping a dangerous wild animal, Street trading & distribution of printed material, Charitable street collections & house to house collections for charity, Special treatments & skin piercing, Hairdressing & barbering, Sex shops & sex cinemas and Motor salvage & scrap metal dealing.

There are also national authorities for various types of business, such as:

  • The Gambling Commission
  • Security Industry Authority (for door supervisors)
  • Environment Agency

Environmental Health

What is Environmental Health?
Environmental Health regulates a wide range of activities and also issue certain licences/permits/registrations. It can be a little confusing as Environmental Health Departments across the country may operate in different ways or provide different services.

It is always best to contact your local environmental health department for advice and guidance. You can find their details using the 'Talk to Reg' tool.

Generally, Environmental Health covers the following areas:
Acupuncture/Animal boarding/Kennels/Catteries, Cooling towers and evaporative condensers, Environmental Pollution, Ear piercing/Electrolysis, Environmental Pollution, Health & Safety enforced premises, Food businesses (it is good practice for staff to be trained in food hygiene - contact your district council for more information), Pet shop licenses, Pollution, Control Permits, Riding Establishments, Tattooing/Body Piercing, Zoos, Dangerous Wild Animals.

Useful websites for Environmental Health:

Food Standards Agency
Health and Safety Executive

Trading Standards

What is Trading Standards?
Trading Standards work to protect citizens from unfair or illegal trading from businesses. In Hertfordshire, the County Council has the responsibility for Trading Standards and they cover the whole of the County – so you don’t contact your District Council if you want to speak to Trading Standards.

Trading Standards enforce legislation across a wide range of areas:
Product Safety, Fair Trading, Weights & Measures, Age Restricted Products, Consumer Credit, Food Standards/Quality, Terms & Conditions/Selling online, Animal Health/Animal Feed/Pet Food and Intellectual Property.

When would I need to speak to Trading Standards?
Hopefully, the only time you will have contact with Trading Standards is when you have requested advice and not because a complaint has been made about your business. The Trading Standards pages on Hertfordshire County Council’s website has a wide range of information for businesses.

Useful websites for trading standards:

Hertfordshire County Council

Health and safety

Health and safety in the work place is regulated both by your local authority and The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) depending on what sort of business you run. The HSE website will provide advice on what you need to do as a business. Retail, leisure and warehousing are generally the only activities regulated by your local council, the rest being regulated by HSE.

You can check who your enforcing authority is on the HSE website.


Highways are responsible for:

  • Skip applications
  • Scaffold & hoarding applications
  • Mobile lifting/mobile crane information

Visit the Hertfordshire County Council website to learn more.

Other things to consider

Music licence
In most instances you’ll need a licence to play music in public. There is a PRS licence and a PPL licence and you usually need both. These are not regulated by the local authority but by PRS and PRL. Visit the website for more information on music licences.

Business continuity
Business continuity just means what you will do if something unexpected/unplanned/uncontrollable happens such as a flood; power cut or critical staff go on sick leave. It’s never nice to think about the ‘what ifs’ but if you think about them early, it means that if something doesn’t go wrong you don’t have to worry about quickly putting together a recovery plan.

Hertfordshire County Council’s Resilience team can give advice on how to plan for the unexpected.

Displaying adverts
If you want to put a sign up on the pavement (an A-board), you must adhere to Highways guidelines. To display a sign on the side of a wall or in your shop window, you might need a licence. Use the 'Talk to Reg' tool for advice.

Tables and chairs on the pavement
You will need a licence to put tables, chairs or temporary furniture on the pavement. Information can be found on the Highways website.

Got a question?
Lauren Dovey is Programme Manager for Better Business For All.
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