What to expect when going for your SIA licence

If you’re thinking about getting a job in the private security sector, then you’ll first need to apply for an SIA licence.


What is an SIA licence?

An SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence is specific to the security industry. It ensures that anyone taking on a security role has undergone the necessary training needed to execute his or her job properly and is fully prepared for the reality of working within a security context.

In fact, it’s a criminal offence to take on security work without an SIA licence, and anyone caught doing so can be punished with up to six months in prison, or a £5,000 fine.  


How do I get an SIA licence?

Licences are issued exclusively by the SIA in the UK, and you’ll have to sit an exam to be granted one - but before you even get that far, you’ll need to undergo some SIA approved training.

There are many SIA licence training schemes available. Just make sure you choose one that is SIA approved. To be sure, make use of the list of recommended training partners on the official Security Industry Authority website.


Who can apply for an SIA licence?

There are strict criteria governing who can apply for an SIA licence and not everyone will be eligible.

To qualify, you must:


  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Pass an ID check
  • Undergo a criminal records check
  • Be eligible to work in the UK
  • Complete SIA approved training


In addition, you’ll also be asked about your mental health at the time of application, and will need to disclose issues, such as anxiety, stress or depression. If you’re currently undergoing treatment for a mental health related condition, the SIA may also request a report from your GP or the clinical practitioner who is responsible for dealing with your treatment.

Just to be clear, having a mental health related illness won’t prevent you from attaining an SIA licence, but as your role means you may potentially be exposed to stressful situations and have direct contact with members of the public, the SIA needs to ensure you are mentally prepared for the challenge.


How long does SIA training take?

You can complete your SIA licence training in less than a week. In fact, most training takes place in just four days, after which time you’ll sit a series of exams to test your knowledge. The only exception to this is Close Protection training, which can take two to three weeks.

Bear in mind however that official SIA-approved training courses may have long waiting lists, and even after passing your qualification, you will still then need to apply for your SIA licence. So, although the course duration itself is short, it could still take several weeks before you’re officially SIA licensed, and you won’t be able to start work without this. Note that SIA Approved security companies can employ you on a Licence Dispensation Notice (LDN) before your licence is received, but certain rules apply.


What will I learn on an SIA training course?

SIA training is divided into set modules, which for the door supervision course, typically comprise of the following:

  • SIA ‘common’ module
  • Door supervision
  • Conflict management
  • Physical intervention

These modules are further broken down to cover off specific job-related responsibilities, such as security guarding, cash and valuables in transit, close protection and public space surveillance, including the use of CCTV. You’ll also learn other valuable skills, relevant to working in the security sector, such as how to conduct onsite security patrols and how to execute a body pat down search.

While all these skills may not apply to the specific security job you are hoping to secure, you will still need to complete, and pass, every module, to get your SIA licence. Remember, the qualification you achieve at the end of your training course isn’t the licence itself – you will still have to apply for your SIA licence once you qualify.


Do SIA licences last forever?

SIA licences are valid for a period of three years, after which time you’ll need to apply to renew your license. It’s best to apply before your current licence expires however, to ensure you don’t experience any lapse in your cover.

Security personnel are legally required to carry and display their SIA licence on their person at all times, while performing their job. Failure to renew your licence before it expires could see you unable to work and earn an income.


Are SIA licences free of charge?

The short answer is no. SIA licences are subject to an application fee, which from 01 October 2019 is £210. This fee is payable upon application and is non-refundable. Meaning that, even if your licence application is rejected, you won’t get your £210 back. For some people, there may be a need for more than one licence; in such cases the additional licence(s) will be discounted by 50%.

For this reason, it’s worth carefully ensuring you meet all of the licence eligibility criteria, before you put in your application. Otherwise you could find yourself £210 out of pocket, with nothing to show for it.


Can I get an SIA licence if I have a criminal record?

A criminal records check is a necessary aspect of the SIA licencing application. If you have a criminal record, you won’t automatically be denied an SIA licence, but this will be taken into account when your application is processed.

Whether or not your criminal record will prevent you from being granted a licence depends on the nature of the offence(s) and when they took place. Every application will be judged on its own merits, so if you do have criminal activity logged against your record, you must accept the possibility that your licence application could be rejected and your £210 admin fee withheld.


When will I receive my licence?

Once you receive your SIA qualification (the result is generally available after 5 working days) you can begin the process of officially applying for your SIA licence. You can do this, even without presenting your certificate as proof, providing you have the result of your exam.

You’ll need to visit a post office in person to have your ID documents checked, photocopied and notarised. You’ll also be required to submit a photograph for your licence (similar to that of a driving licence) and a signature, which will also appear printed on the card. Your post office will also collect the £210 licence application fee.

After this it’s simply a case of sitting tight and waiting patiently for your licence to arrive. This typically takes around 25 days from the point of application. Again, working for an SIA Approved Contractor can help you by reducing the wait until you can get to work and they can often help you with the application process.


How soon can I start applying for jobs?

Although you can’t normally start work without your SIA licence, you can of course begin searching for security jobs, while you’re wait for it to arrive.

For starters, you can browse the positions we currently have available at Venture Security, on our recruitment page here: https://www.venturesec.co.uk/recruitment. We also advertise our available roles on jobs listing site Indeed.


About Venture

Venture Security is ranked among the top 1% of security companies in the UK. From manned guarding to mobile patrols and key holding services, and our comprehensive event security services, we help our customers keep their premises, assets and people safe.

Our specialist team works with businesses big and small, based across Winchester, Andover, Salisbury, Basingstoke, Fareham and the wider central-southern region. For more information, please call us on 01264 391538.


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