Interested in working in the private security industry?

Then you’re going to need an SIA licence.

On this page, you’ll find more information about what an SIA licence is, how to get one and what to expect when going for your licence.

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What is an SIA licence?

An SIA (Security Industry Authority) licence is a legal requirement for anyone undertaking a private security role within the UK. For example, you will need one if you want to become a security officer (security guard) or to work as a door supervisor in licensed premises and at events. Under the Private Security Industry Act 2001, it is a criminal offence to work without one.

SIA licences act as official evidence that the post holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person, has been trained to the necessary minimum industry standards by a government approved licence-linked training course and is qualified to undertake all responsibilities associated with his or her security position.

How to apply for an SIA licence

To apply for a licence in the UK you first need to complete an accredited licence-linked SIA training course, details of which you can find on the UK government website here.

Passing a training course won’t automatically grant you a licence, but it’s a necessary step you’ll need to take if you wish to become a registered security professional in the UK and apply for work in the private security sector.

Once you’ve completed your training course you can apply for your licence on the UK government website by creating an online account and submitting an application form.

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How long does a licence last?

SIA licences are currently valid for three years.

Licence renewal

You’ll need to keep your SIA licence up to date to avoid any disruption to your ability to work, so it’s important that you complete your SIA licence renewal before your current licence expires.

For that reason, it’s advisable to renew your SIA licence when you have around four months‘ validity out of the three years remaining, leaving you plenty of time for your new licence to arrive before your current one expires. The SIA will contact you when there are four months left on your licence and the new one will be dated to start from the expiry of the previous licence, provided you apply in plenty of time within that four-month period.

How much does an SIA licence cost?

The current cost is £190 per licence (correct as of December 2021), which must be paid in full at the time you submit your SIA licence application.

If you have to apply for more than one SIA licence, a 50% discount will be applied to the second and any subsequent licences. This means you’ll pay the £190 SIA licence cost for the first licence and £95 for any others within the same application.

SIA licence payments are also non-refundable, so in the event that your application is denied (because you’ve provided false information on your application for instance) you’ll forfeit your SIA licence cost.

If you wish to reapply for an SIA licence, following a failed application, you will need to submit a fresh application via your SIA account on the UK government website and pay the required SIA cost again.

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Finding an approved SIA licence course

To meet the terms required for an SIA licence in the UK, you have to first complete a licence-linked training course, sometimes referred to as an SIA licence course or SIA licence training.

Only training courses that have been approved by the UK government meet the criteria for a licence-linked training course and a qualification from any other security provider may render your SIA licence application invalid.

To ensure your course meets the eligibility for an SIA licence application we recommend referring to the UK government’s list of accredited SIA licence training courses when making your selection.


Licence requirements

In addition to passing a government accredited SIA licence course, anyone applying to get SIA licenced as a private sector security professional in the UK also needs to undergo a criminal records check and provide proof of eligibility to work in the UK.

As part of your application, you’ll also be asked to submit proof of identity. This needs to include one form of photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence, and two official documents, such as a council tax bill, mortgage statement, utility bill or bank statement, along with a recent passport style photograph of yourself.

Only original documents are accepted in each case, so you must be prepared to post whichever proof you submit, in order for your application to be processed. If you fail to send in the required forms of ID to support your application your licence won’t be issued and you may forfeit your SIA application cost.

Alternatively, you can visit a Post Office to have your documents checked, photograph taken and to pay for your application.


How long does a licence take to arrive?

You can use the government’s decision timescale indicator to give you a rough indication of when you can expect your licence to be issued.

You can also track the progress of your application via “my applications” by logging in to your SIA account on the UK government website.

The speed your SIA application is processed depends on a number of variables, such as how quickly you return your identification documents and the number of licences you’re applying for.

If you have a criminal record, a pending trial, or have lived continuously outside of the UK for a period of six months or more (within five years of applying for your SIA licence), this can also influence how quickly your licence is granted.

Working before your licence is issued

 It is an offence under the Private Security Act 2001 to work in a licensable security role without a valid SIA licence, and this continues to be the case right up until you physically receive your licence (or at least proof it has been granted). There is, however, an exception to this rule – you can lawfully work for an SIA Approved Contractor (ACS company) on a Licence Dispensation Notice (LDN) once your application gets to ‘Checks in Progress’.

This can buy you a little time, whereby you can get started working in a security role whilst the application is still underway. There are lots of reasons to choose an SIA ACS company, such as Venture Security, as your employer. The main one being that you can be confident that you will be paid correctly and on time.

Further reading

You may also be interested in:

Join the Venture team

Venture Security is an SIA approved contractor and ranked within the top 1% of security providers in the UK. We work with customers based across Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset and Surrey, providing a range of professional security services.

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