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Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions from licence holders and applicants can be found on a dedicated page


Q1.  Why are only caving, climbing, trekking and watersports activities within scope of the regulations?  What about, for example, motor sports, rope courses, archery and water skiing?

Q2.  The risks in the voluntary sector or on teacher-led trips may be as great or greater.  Why aren't they included?

Q3.  What are the requirements on schools and teachers then?

Q4.  Why not licence the entire range of activities on offer at a particular centre rather than just certain activities carried out there? Surely this is confusing for the public?

Q5.  Are there any voluntary schemes?

Q6.  Do the regulations apply to centres overseas which are operated by British companies?

Q7.  Do non-GB providers need a licence to offer activities in GB?

Q8.  What is the law about minibuses, drivers and trailers?

Q9.  Do the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations require providers to do criminal records checks?

Q10. How do I know if a licence is needed?


Q1.  Why are only caving, climbing, trekking and watersports activities within scope of the regulations?  What about, for example, motor sports, rope courses, archery and water skiing?

The licensing regulations encompass a broad range of activities but concentrate on those which are done in the most hazardous environments.  Licensing with compulsory inspection is a very strict form of regulation.  The list of activities covered by the regulations was decided on following a review of the accident and incident history in this sector and a desire to regulate the activities with the greatest potential for multiple fatalities or severe injuries.

Q2.  The risks in the voluntary sector or on teacher-led trips may be as great or greater.  Why aren't they included?

The licensing scheme arises from the tragedy at Lyme Bay in 1993, which involved a commercial organisation assuming responsibility for children's safety and then discharging it negligently.  When children go on trips as part of the normal school curriculum under the continuing guidance of the teacher that is different from handing over responsibility to another party of whom certain skills, knowledge and qualifications are expected.

The Department for Education has produced guidance about school trips.  There is also guidance for Scotland and the Outdoor Education Advisor's Panel has produced guidance for England.  The Welsh Government has issued this guidance.  

The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority prepares guidance for the Adventure Activities Licensing Service inspector.  This can be found by following the links on the left.  Although written for the inspectors, the guidance may be useful to provider, schools and members of the public.

Q3.  What are the requirements on schools and teachers then?

Teachers leading their own pupils in adventure activities and assuming responsibility for their safety do not have to be licensed.  But the school should however ensure that they are competent in the activity which they are leading.  The fact that they do not fall within the scope of the regulations does not exempt them from their existing legal duty of care, as a teacher.

If the activity is organised by the school, the local authority or board of governors will, as employers, be subject to the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  They require employers to assess the risks to teachers and pupils of any of their activities and to have in place measures to ensure that the significant risks are controlled. A part of this is ensuring that employees are sufficiently competent.

Q4.  Why not licence the entire range of activities on offer at a particular centre rather than just certain activities carried out there? Surely this is confusing for the public?

The Licensing Service inspectors have always acted as the eyes and ears of the health and safety enforcing authorities.  They are required to bring any issues they become aware of to the attention of the provider and to the appropriate authority, if appropriate.  Read The Approach to the Inspection of Providers for more detail about how the AALS inspect.

Q5.  Are there any equivalent voluntary schemes?

Some specific activities, particularly sail sports, paddle sports, and equestrian activities, have an accreditation scheme run by their respective National Governing Body (NGB).  See the relevant NGB web-sites.

 Multi-activity providers can apply for Adventuremark.  This is suitable for activity providers who are out of the scope of the regulations but would like an independent accreditation. 

Q6.  Do the regulations apply to centres overseas which are operated by British companies?

No, statutory regulations cannot apply outside of Great Britain for legal reasons.  The legislation does not apply outside the boundaries of Great Britain and no remit exists for inspecting providers of adventure activities operating in Northern Ireland, Crown Territories, Crown Dependencies or foreign countries.  Providers outside GB may find the Adventuremark scheme of interest.

Q7.  Do non-GB providers need a licence to offer activities in GB?

Yes - if they are providing activities in scope of the regulations then they require a licence.

Q8.  What is the law about minibuses, drivers and trailers?

This is a complex area involving both road traffic law and insurance. AALA and AALS inspectors are not competent to advise on this subject.  Activity providers who are part of a local authority should contact their transport department for information.  Other providers should contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency or the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency as appropriate.

Q9.  Do the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations require providers to do criminal records checks?

No - there is nothing in these regulations that requires providers to do criminal records checks. However there are other legal duties on those working with children and vulnerable adults. Further information can be obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service, or in Scotland, Disclosure Scotland.

Q10. How do I know if a licence is needed?

It's not always immediately obvious if a licence is needed.  We've prepared a flowchart to help activity providers decide if they need a licence.  If you work through the flowchart but are still unsure, please contact the Licensing Service.