Distributing free leaflets across the UK is a perfectly legal activity in the majority of cases, though there are certain situations where permission is needed, or you may accidentally fall on the wrong side of the law.

If you’re planning to deliver and distribute leaflets as part of a campaign yourself, then it’s important to be aware of all the legal requirements, as this brief guide details. Alternatively, using our services here at Leafletdrop will make sure that your leaflet marketing campaign stays on the right side of the law at all times. 

When Do and Don’t You Need Permission?

Firstly, you don’t need to worry about permission when distributing free printed leaflets in the following situations:

  • Leaflets are being distributed through letterboxes
  • Inside a building, bus or taxi
  • For a charity, political, religious or other beliefs

Therefore, when using Leafletdrop or delivering leaflets through doors, you don’t need to worry about gaining permission. Free printed materials can include anything from leaflets and cards to takeaway menus, promotional material and free newspapers.

The main situation when you will need permission to distribute leaflets is when they are being handed out on the street. When this is the case, you should check what the regulations are in your local area or where you wish to hand out leaflets, as you may need to apply for a licence or leaflet distribution in this manner may be banned.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act

In 2005 the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act was introduced by the UK government. One of the main reasons it was created was to prevent littering and hold those who do accountable. This allows local authorities to control leaflet distribution in their towns and cities, with regulations varying from free consent schemes to having to pay for a licence.

For example, in Manchester free leaflets can be handed out with consent from the city council. However, consent fees are based on a points system, so depending on the type of business and other factors this could be free, easily affordable or rather expensive to obtain. Other councils, such as in Leeds, allow leaflet distribution in the street but only in certain areas, charging a set amount per badge for each distributor.

Penalties and the Appeal Process

Failure to get the correct licence for leaflet distribution in the street can result in a fixed penalty of up to £80 or a fine of up to £2,500. If you do get a licence but then break the regulations of it (such as distributing leaflets in an area outside of the agreed zone) the same penalties can be applied, along with a potential fine and a criminal record. Plus, your licence will likely be cancelled, and all printed leaflets confiscated until the end of any legal proceedings.

If you’ve applied for a licence and been turned down, you can appeal to your local magistrate’s court if they’ve refused permission, put additional conditions on what, when and how you leaflet and withdrawn or changed its permission. For some small scale or community events you may even be eligible for a discount on any fees.   

Get Started with Leafletdrop

One of the easiest and effective ways to make sure you stay on the right side of the law with leaflet distribution is to get started with Leafletdrop. Sign up to begin your own personalised marketing campaigns and remain safe in the knowledge that everything is well within the law. 

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