Street trading

If you sell produce (including food) in the street in Hillingdon, you may require a street trading licence.

Leaflet distribution

If you distribute any free printed material, you must obtain the consent of the council in order to distribute on land which is designated by them as requiring consent.

What you need to know before applying

Licence laws

By virtue of powers granted by Environment Protection Act 1990, Hillingdon Council has designated certain highways and council-owned land where the distribution of free, printed matter is permitted only with the prior consent of the council. Consent may be limited as to the material to be distributed, the times or dates it may be distributed, or the area of designated land in which it may be distributed.

The purpose of this legislation is to help control the litter problem created by the distribution of free printed matter which is often quickly discarded by persons to whom it is given. This not only harms the environment but places added pressure on council street cleansing services.


The legislation does not apply to the distribution of free literature:

  • on behalf of a charity, within the meaning of the Charities Act 2006, where the printed matter relates to, or is for the benefit, of the charity
  • where the distribution is for political purposes
  • for the purposes of a religion or belief
  • by a person who distributes the literature by delivering it into a building or letterbox or distributing inside a bus or taxi

The organisation should apply for consent but there will be no charge for this. We would encourage organisations seeking to distribute matter under these exemptions to contact us in advance. In this way, we can confirm your exemption status and issue you a permit free of any charge. We do ask that printed matter is still distributed responsibly and arrange to collect any discarded material.    

Designated streets and places

If free literature is to be distributed in a street or place outside the designated areas, then no consent is required.

The areas that are affected by the new rules are:

Leaflet distribution designated area map for Brunel University [521KB]

Leaflet distribution designated area map for Hayes Town Centre [656KB]

Leaflet distribution designated area map for Uxbridge Town Centre [1MB]

Fees and charges

Please note that we cannot process your completed form until we are in receipt of the current licence fee.

How to apply

An acknowledgement of your completed application will be sent to you via e-mail.  Please note that applications may be delayed beyond fourteen days should information not be supplied as required on the application form or where the correct fee is not submitted.

Application for consent to distribute printed matter


What happens next

We will process your application as quickly as possible and, in any event, aim to process the application within the advised timescales. If your notification is not processed within the timescales stated, tacit consent applies. This means that you will be able to act as though your application is granted if you have not heard from Hillingdon Council by the end of the target completion period. If we have not contacted you, please get in touch with us.


Processing Times

Tacit Consent

Application for consent to distribute leaflets 

14 calendar days


Application to change a consent to distribute leaflets

5 working days



Conditions applicable to all consents

  • Distributors wishing to hand out free literature within the restricted areas shall be restricted to two distributors per event to minimise the impact on the local environment and the defacement of the designated areas.
  • Distributing companies shall only delegate two distributors to distribute their literature in a designated area, on the approved date and between the approved times.
  • Distributions shall only take place between the hours of 7am and 3pm and shall take place for no more than three hours during this period, either continuously or intermittently.
  • All staff engaged in the distribution of free literature shall be in possession of a current consent that has been issued by the council whilst undertaking or supporting distribution activities.
  • All staff engaged in the distribution of free literature shall produce, on demand of an authorised officer, their consent to distribute within the area they are operating.
  • No free literature shall be left at any place on the highway to facilitate the general public to take the literature at their discretion unless by prior agreement by the council.
  • All literature shall bear the name and address of the consent holder who is responsible for distributing the literature unless an agreement has been reached prior to distribution with the council as part of the application process.
  • All staff distributing free literature should clear the area (within 25 metres of the allotted point) at the end of the distribution period of all dropped literature and remove the literature for correct disposal. Every effort should be made to recycle all dropped literature.
  • All staff distributing free literature should remove, at any time, any literature from the public highway on demand of an authorised officer where it is safe to do so.
  • It is expected that all literature promoting alcohol shall display a responsible drinking strap line.
  • It is expected that all literature promoting gambling does not contravene the council's gambling policy.
  • Any distributions carried out whilst an application is being processed shall be treated as having no consent to distribute within the area.
  • We will normally grant consent for a day and that will only be for three hours continuously or intermittently.

Refusal to grant consent

The council may refuse to grant consent, if:

  • the applicant is unsuitable by reason of misconduct
  • the applicant has within the previous five years been convicted of any offence under London Local Authorities Act 1994 section 4 (seizure of literature where no consent has been granted)
  • a consent already given to distribute literature would result in more than one distributor in each designated area on each day
  • there is a risk of danger or unreasonable inconvenience to users of highways
  • it is considered that the proposed distribution of free literature is likely to lead to the defacement of the designated area

No consent will be given for the distribution of the following types of literature:

  • racist, sexist or offensive material or literature encouraging criminal behaviour
  • literature that promotes the irresponsible use of alcohol (for example happy hour advertisements or money-off offers)

Revocation of consent

Consent may be revoked if:

Right of appeal

Any person aggrieved by the following decisions of the council, may appeal against that decision to Uxbridge Magistrates' Court:

  • refusal to grant consent
  • imposition of any limitation or condition subject to which consent is given
  • revocation of a consent (or its revocation to any extent)

The court may:

  • uphold any refusal to grant consent or require the authority to grant consent (without limitation or condition or subject to any limitation or condition)
  • require the authority to revoke or vary any condition
  • uphold or quash revocation of consent (or uphold or quash revocation to any extent)

Consumer complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint, you make the first contact with the trader, preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked and you are located in the UK, Citizens Advice consumer service will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Page last updated: 27 Jul 2021