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There are rules for the distribution of leaflets and although this is primarily aimed at people handing them out on the street, it is well worth being abreast of the facts.
In 2005, the UK introduced the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. This means you cannot distribute leaflets in most major cities in the UK without a permit. Get advice on getting the right permits for the right places from your local council. This law was placed in order to prevent littering, but if you’ve done your homework, designed your printed leaflet well, with a quality finish and targeted your audience successfully, littering should not be an issue.
It is within the law to check with your local council to see if you need permission to distribute free printed material in England and Wales.
Free printed material includes:
- leaflets or cards
- free newspapers
- takeaway menus and other promotional material
You can appeal to your local magistrates court if you’re unhappy about the council*:
- refusing to give you permission to distribute leaflets
- placing conditions on what, when, where or how you leaflet
- withdrawing or changing its permission
* You may have to pay a fee to distribute leaflets. If you’re leafletting about a small-scale cultural or community event you may be able to get reduced fees - check with your local council.
When you don’t need permission!
You don’t need permission if the printed material is being distributed:
- in letterboxes
- inside a building, bus or taxi
- on behalf of a charity
- for political or religious purposes or other beliefs
Displaying your licence
Some councils issue a badge for each authorised person to wear while distributing printed material. A local authority enforcement officer may ask to see this or other written evidence of your authorisation at any time.
Fines and penalties
You may get a fixed penalty up to £80, or a fine up to £2,500 and a criminal record, if you distribute printed material without a licence or break the rules of your licence. Your licence may be cancelled.
Your printed material may be taken away until the end of any legal proceedings. You’ll have to apply to a magistrate if you want it back sooner.
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