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Leaflet Distribution and the Law

Leaflet Distribution and the Law

The rules of Leaflet Distribution

If you have been looking for the answer to the question ‘is leafleting legal?’ or trying to find out the leaflet dropping laws in the UK, you have come to the right place. Leafletdrop are the industry leaders in UK leaflet distribution and as such we are uniquely qualified to answer any questions you might have with regards to leaflet dropping and the law.

If you don’t find the answer to your question in this article, please drop us a message and our team of leaflet distribution experts will be able to answer any and all of your questions about the leaflet dropping rules in the UK.

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How to distribute flyers legally

Distributing free leaflets across the UK is a perfectly legal activity in most cases, though there are certain situations where permission is needed, or you may accidentally commit an offence.

If you’re planning to distribute printed material as part of a campaign yourself, such as door-to-door or distributing flyers in the street, then it’s important to be aware of all the legal requirements, as this brief guide details.

Find the right households for your leaflet distributions with our targeting tool. Sign up and try it for free. 

Why DO you need permission to distribute Leaflets?

Leaflet distribution could mean many things from handing out leaflets on the street to distributing leaflets to the home also known as a door drop. In most cases distributing free printed material is completely legal, and no permissions or leaflet distribution licences are required. However, there are some cases in which you may need to speak to your local council before you start your flyer distribution.

The main situation when you will need permission to distribute leaflets is when they are being handed out on the street also known as hand out leaflets or hand to hand flyer distribution. 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 fill out an application for a licence or leaflet distribution in this manner may be banned.

For example, in Manchester free leaflets can be handed out with consent from the city council.
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 Leeds, allow leaflet distribution in the street but only in certain areas, charging a set amount per badge for each distributor. 

When DON’T you need permission to distribute leaflets?

You do not need permission when using the following methods of leaflet delivery:

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

Can you post leaflets through doors in the UK?

The most effective form of leaflet delivery is door drop leaflets to homes, also called ‘letterbox marketing’. Posting leaflets through doors is especially effective because the leaflet has to be picked up from the doormat and engaged with.

Leaflet-dropping companies can help get your leaflets to the right homes, and the best part is no permissions are needed.

Other benefits of door-to-door leaflet distribution include:

  • Lots more design opportunities – If it fits in the letterbox, it can be delivered like catalogues, menus, and larger A4 pieces
  • Door-dropping can be highly targeted – if you are just using GPS-tracked services or handing them out on the street, then you can’t guarantee you are reaching the right people. Targeted, door-to-door leaflet distribution finds the homes most likely to engage with your printed leaflet
  • Captive audience - most people will try to avoid marketers in the street, regardless of whether their agenda is of interest or not. Delivering leaflets to letterboxes is a gentle way of marketing to an audience that has to look at your printed materials but can still choose to engage or not
  • Cost-effective marketing - door-to-door leaflet distribution can be one of the most cost-effective marketing methods with a relatively low cost per impression, compared to channels such as digital, TV and radio.
  • Measurable responses - despite popular opinion, leaflet advertising can have a measurable ROI if it is planned well. By using tools like discount codes, putting loyalty cards on the leaflet itself, QR codes and even custom website landing page URLs, you can measure campaign engagement by tracking the post-campaign performance of these metrics.

What time can you deliver the leaflets?

The law regarding the time of day for distributing leaflets can vary depending on the jurisdiction. In many places, there are no specific restrictions on the timing of leaflet distribution. However, some local regulations or ordinances may exist that limit certain activities during particular hours. For instance, residential areas might have restrictions on distributing leaflets early in the morning or late at night to avoid disturbing residents. 

Public spaces or commercial areas may have their own guidelines regarding the permitted hours for leaflet distribution to maintain order and minimise inconvenience. Therefore, it is advisable to consult local laws or seek guidance from relevant authorities to ensure compliance with any specific regulations in a given area.

If all the leaflet distribution rules seem overwhelming, never fear! Leafletdrop has a unique relationship with the Royal Mail for leaflet distribution, meaning that if you book your campaign with us, you don’t have to worry about any of the leaflet distribution rules! 

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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 leaflet littering and hold those who do accountable. This allows local authorities to control flyer distribution in their towns and cities, with regulations varying from free consent schemes to having to pay for a licence.

Leaflet Distribution 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. Our online leaflet distribution tool and delivery service are completely compliant with all UK laws and we are the experts in leaflet advertising.

Leafletdrop lets you book an entire campaign online in minutes, then you can just leave the rest to us. We organise the compliant and targeted distribution through Royal Mail, who deliver your leaflets alongside the daily post.

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