Scrap metal regulations – what you need to know

New legislation, coming into effect on 3 December, will make it an offence to buy scrap metal for cash.

Scrap metal dealers will no longer be able to pay customers for scrap metal in cash, instead transactions must be by  cheque or electronic transfer to provide an audit trail of all payments. The ruling has been brought in as an amendment to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.

The move aims to curb the increase in metal theft, making it a higher risk crime, rather than providing low risk opportunities for metal thieves.

Businesses that buy and sell scrap metal must be registered with their local authority and trading without registration is a criminal offence. Itinerant collectors are exempt from the ruling, though must be registered with the local authority and have obtained a separate order which exempts them from some record-keeping requirements.

Increased record keeping is required which includes:

  • copy of named cheque or print out of receipt of electronic payment made
  • details of the person who made the payment
  • details of the person who took the receipt

Records that fail to show these transaction details will be considered an offence under the new rules. Fines have been increased and the most serious breaches give police power of entry, by warrant, into premises to assess whether the regulations are being followed.

Police and local authorities will continue to remain responsible for checking records and ensuring compliance with the cash-less regime.

Home Office Guidance on the offence of buying scrap metal for cash


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