Our Guide to Getting an SIA Licence and Responsibilities of Licence Holders.

The Security Industry Authority (SIA) is responsible for regulating the UK’s private security industry, reporting to the Home Secretary under the Private Security Industry Act 2001. Their mission is to reduce criminality and improve standards, so the public is, and feels, safer.

The SIA has two main duties, the compulsory licensing of individuals undertaking specific security activities and managing the Approved Contractor Scheme. We’re focusing on the influential factors of getting licensed. ARK holds Approved Contractor Status and all ARK’s Responding Officers are SIA licensed.

What is SIA Licensing?

SIA licensing ensures security operatives are ‘fit and proper’ persons, qualified to do their job. Licence requirements are determined by the individual’s role and activity.

Licensable activities under the Private Security Industry Act:

  • Manned Guarding (Cash and Valuables in Transit, Close Protection, Door Supervision, Public Space Surveillance (CCTV), Security Guard)
  • Immobilisation, restriction and removal of vehicles
  • Keyholding

It is an offence to engage in licensable conduct without a licence (Section 3 the Private Security Industry Act).

It’s illegal to immobilise vehicles England, Wales and Scotland. It’s legal in Northern Ireland, but individuals must be licensed.

What are the Types of SIA Licence?

The SIA has a list of licensable roles, the type of SIA licence required depends on the role:

  • A front line licence is for licensable activities and non-front line activity, except keyholding. This licence is a credit card-sized plastic card which must be worn when doing licensable activities.
  • A non-front line licence is for those who manage, supervise and/or employ individuals engaging in licensable front line activity. It is a letter which also covers keyholding.

You don’t need a non-front line licence for each non-front line licensable activity. E.g. A director supplying close protection and security guards, doesn’t need two licences.

All licence holders must:

  • Tell the SIA and Police if their licence is lost or stolen.
  • Tell the SIA of any changes to their name or address.
  • Return the licence to the SIA if asked to do so.
  • Not deface or alter the licence or wear a licence that has been disfigured.
  • Tell the SIA of any changes to right to work or remain in the UK.

If licence holders don’t follow the SIA’s conditions, they’ll receive a written warning, their licence may be suspended or revoked, and they could be prosecuted with a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a fine up to statutory maximum.

The SIA keeps an up to date register of licence holders, available to the public.

What are the Licensable Activities?

Manned guarding is broken down into five licensable activities:

  • Guarding against unauthorised access to premises.
  • Guarding property against destruction or damage, being stolen or dishonestly taken.
  • Guarding one or more individuals against assault or injuries from unlawful conduct of others.

An SIA licence is only required if your services are supplied in connection with any consumer contract, except in door supervision.

Cash and Valuables in Transit

This licence is required when guarding involves secure transportation of property in vehicles specially manufactured or adapted for purposes.

Close Protection

A close protection licence is compulsory when guarding individuals against injury or assault.

Door Supervision

Manned guarding requires a licence if in licensed premises, except when it only involves CCTV, property transportation, close protection, if performed on behalf of an employer, yourself or your services are connected to a consumer contract.

Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)

A licence is required when manned guarding is via CCTV to monitor a member of public or identify a person.

Security Guard

 A Security licence is compulsory when manned guarding doesn’t fall under door supervision, close protection, cash and valuables in transit or public space surveillance (CCTV).


A keyholding licence is mandatory for custody or controlling access to any key or lock operating device. It doesn’t apply to activities of a person holding the key, anything outside manned guarding or in connection with the sale of any premises.

Licensing of vehicle immobilisers applies to Northern Ireland only.

How Much Does an SIA Licence Cost?

The application fee is £210 for a three-year licence, the front line vehicle immobiliser licence is for one year for the same price, it is non-refundable.

Whether you or your employer pays the fee is at your discretion. If you’re paying the fee yourself, you can claim tax relief against your taxable income. Visit the HMRC website for more information.

Some professionals require more than one licence, additional licences are discounted 50%. Instruction on how to pay will be given when you submit your application.

SIA Licence Renewal

SIA licences don’t renew automatically, keeping track of when it expires ensures you are working legally. Licences can be renewed up to four months before expiration, your new licence will be valid from the day it is granted, and any time left on your current licence will be added on. Apply for a renewal as early as possible to avoid any delays that may prevent you from working.

If your licence has expired, you must apply for a new licence. A renewal costs £210, an employer can renew on their employee’s behalf.

No additional training is needed for renewals, but double-check you’re up to date with current licence-linked qualifications before applying.

SIA Licence Training

Individuals must prove they have the right SIA-endorsed qualification to secure a licence, but exemptions may be granted for previously existing security-related qualifications. A non-front line licence does not require licence-linked training.

Find the required qualifications for licensable activities here.

What’s the Time Frame?

The process has no specific timescale and depends on many factors like right to work, address history, criminal record and time overseas. The amount of other applications being processed, and response times of other agencies also influences the time frame.

There is no guarantee of a licence, even if you have held one previously.

Who has Responsibility for Getting an SIA Licence?

The person undertaking licensable activity is responsible for obtaining a licence, working without one is breaking the law. It is not the employer’s responsibility to get staff licensed, but they are breaking the law if their staff are unlicensed.  

Before you Apply

Check that you will meet the licensing criteria before applying, it will save both time and money. You must be over 18 and have documentation to prove who you are.

The SIA must also have evidence of your relevant qualifications from the awarding organisation before you apply.


A criminal record doesn’t mean you won’t get a licence, a decision will be based on how relevant and recent the offences are and the sentence or disposal. The SIA can consider all offences including spent convictions, being exempt from many restrictions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

You must declare any outstanding charges; the SIA will wait for the court’s verdict before deciding on the licence. If it has not been resolved one year after you apply, the application will be withdrawn.

The SIA will never automatically grant a licence when a prison sentence is longer than 48 months.

Try the SIA’s criminal record indicator to find out if you’ll pass their criteria.

Right to Work

The SIA may confirm you have the right to remain and work in the UK, it doesn’t replace the statutory responsibility of employers to do the same. Employers shouldn’t an SIA licence as proof of right to work in the UK.

Mental Health

The SIA consider any mental health problems resulting in compulsory detainment or other measures occurring in the five years prior to applying. If applicable, you must provide a current mental health report from the treating psychiatrist, psychologist or a GP who is in regular contact and monitors your condition.

Other Information

The SIA don’t normally look for information held about you by organisations they work with e.g. the Police and Local Authorities. However, if the information is offered, the SIA will consider it. They will also consider any information from their own sources like CCTV or SIA Warnings.

“Information” means evidence which shows:

  • Relevant criminal activity
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Criminal association
  • Activity which is likely to bring the industry into disrepute
  • Indicates you are not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

If an application is successful, you will receive a letter from the SIA with your licence. If unsuccessful, a letter from the SIA will inform you of the decision and advise options.

When a Licence is Suspended

A licence is normally suspended when the SIA believe there is a threat to public safety, and it is in the public interest to do so. Suspension is regarded as a temporary measure with immediate effect and means the individual cannot legally work in a licensable sector. It gives the SIA time to look at the issue and decide whether the licence holder can keep their licence, or they must revoke it.

Revoking a Licence

A licence holder’s licence will be revoked if:

  • It has been obtained using fraudulent documents and/or fraudulent identity.
  • If the licence has been used by someone other than the licence holder for licensable activities.
  • They receive a conviction, caution, warning, absolute/conditional discharge or admonishment for a relevant offence.
  • They have been untruthful about having the required qualifications for their licence.
  • They have been working with an SIA licence without the right to work in the UK.
  • The SIA has been informed by the relevant authorities they don’t have the right to work or are in the UK illegally.
  • They break the conditions of the licence.
  • They refuse or neglect to undertake the SIA-approved training.
  • The SIA holds information which indicates that they are not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

The SIA will write to the licence holder when revoking a licence, giving its reasons and invite the licence holder to respond within 21 days with further information.

You can read more about SIA licensing in its entirety here.

About ARK

Alarm Response and Keyholding is part of the Asset Protection Group and we specialise in providing professional keyholding and alarm response services across the UK. Securing your home or business to ensure the safety of your family and staff. We have been providing keyholding and guarding services since 1982. Because we take the responsibility for responding to out of hours of alarm activations.  As well as securing sites on behalf of owners with fully licensed SIA security officers.