It is an offence to distribute 'free printed matter' within Oxford without our consent.

This includes:

  • leaflets
  • printed balloons
  • printed stickers
  • printed carrier bags
  • printed wristbands
  • printed t-shirts/clothing
  • printed carrier bags
  • printed baseball caps

Examples of activities that need our consent are:

  • a promoter for a nightclub giving out flyers to passing members of the public promoting an event at a venue
  • the owner of a shop giving out leaflets to passing members of the public promoting the sale of goods at their premises
  • an estate agent who leaves a box of property newspapers on the street at the entrance to their premises
  • a board left outside a college promoting a theatre production that has a pocket containing leaflets attached to it
  • a pile of flyers left on top of a piece of street furniture or a window ledge for passing members of the public to pick up
  • a promotional stand set up in the street from which free leaflets are available promoting tourist activities such as bus rides or walking tours
  • a promoter placing leaflets under the windscreen wipers of parked cars in a park and ride car park

Exemptions and summary consent

We allow distribution of printed matter without any further consent if it is:

  • for the benefit of a charity
  • for political purposes
  • for the purpose of a religion or belief
  • by an organisation promoting public health or carbon reduction (NHS, Fire Service, Police, Health Protection Agency, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Environment Agency)
  • by an organisation promoting bus travel within Oxford (Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach, Thames Travel)

Consent types 

There are two types of consent that can be applied for:

Static consents - permits free printed matter to be distributed from a static display outside a premise. A single consent will allow a premise to distribute from multiple displays at one site. There is no limit on the number of displays that can be used at the site.

Non-static consents - permit distributors to hand out free printed matter in person. Each consent badge permits a single person to distribute free printed matter at a time.  

Costs

  • Static (1 year) - £200
  • Non-static (1 month) - £100
  • Non-static (1 year) - £400
  • Replacement badge - £25 each

Consent conditions

Each consent will have a number of conditions attached which the applicant will need to sign up to before receiving their consent.

Failure to comply with any of these conditions will result in the revocation of the consent and any associated badges plus the disqualification from applying for a new consent for a period of 1 year.

Download the Static Consent Conditions.

Download the Non-static Consent Conditions.

We will enforce the consent conditions. Any contraventions may result in individual badges being revoked; full consents and any associated badges being revoked and or a ban from applying for further consents for a period of 1 year. We also have the power to seize any printed matter being distributed without a consent.

Design guide for materials

The consent conditions require specific messages to be on any leaflets distributed.

All leaflets must include the phrase - 'Littering is an offence. Dropping this [insert type of item] on the ground could result in a maximum fine of £2,500'.

If the free printed matter is advertising a venue that sells alcohol then the message 'Enjoy Alcohol Responsibly' must be on the items.

The design on the leaflet must meet the Advertising Standards Authority Code of Practice. You can view the code of practice on the Committee of Advertising Practice website.

Making an application

You can apply for a consent and order badges by completing an application form and sending it to us with your payment or proof of payment:

Download the Static Consent Application Form.

Download the Non-static Consent Application Form.

You can make payments by cheque made out to Oxford City Council or by card. Card payments can be taken over the phone by calling us. If you pay over the phone then a copy of the receipt must accompany the application form to verify payment.

Please note that any applications received without payment will not be processed.

Monthly and annual badges

We recognise that it may not be commercially sensible for a business to purchase an annual consent if they are not sure how successful a leaflet campaign will be for their business.

For this reason you can convert a monthly consent into an annual one for an administration charge of £25 per badge plus the balance of £300 per badge.

If you wish to convert your existing monthly consent badge into an annual consent badge please complete the form below and send it to us with your payment or proof of payment

Download the Monthly to Annual Consent Badges Conversion Application Form.

Appeals against consent decisions

We reserve the right to refuse consent to any individual or business and will take any relevant previous convictions, warnings, revocations or refusals for the distribution of free printed matter into consideration before authorisation is given.

Any person aggrieved by a decision to refuse consent, to impose any limitation or condition subject to which consent is given, or to revoke consent (or to revoke it to any extent), may appeal against the decision to a magistrates' court.

A magistrates' court may on an appeal:

  • uphold any refusal of consent or require us to grant consent (without limitation or condition or subject to any limitation or condition)
  • require us to revoke or vary any condition
  • uphold or quash revocation of consent (or uphold or quash revocation to any extent)

Contact the Community Safety ASB Service

Address: Town Hall
St Aldate's
Oxford
OX1 1BX

Telephone: 01865 252969