When is an Asbestos License Required?

There are a lot of grey areas and unknowns when it comes to the pre-requisite of an asbestos license and many people and businesses simply don’t known when an asbestos license is required. The UK Government and HSE have clear guidelines on this, however, and this is what we discuss below so you know what to expect if a contractor is working on your premises to remove asbestos. 

Asbestos License Requirements

The UK GOV has clear guidance on asbestos license requirements and the work generally falls into two categories – licensable work, and NNLW. The licensing is provided by the HSE although there is a fact sheet on the GOV website[1] and a direct application link. Below, we look at the two types of defined asbestos work.

Licensable Work With Asbestos

High-risk work with asbestos typically requires a license and the UK GOV defines this as any work that is on a medium or large scale and involves asbestos products that can’t be removed without breaking them. It also states that typically, a license is required for work with an intensity of asbestos greater than 0.6 fibres per cm cubed over a 10-minute period. Other defining factors include as per the HSE page on Licensable work with asbestos: 

  • Worker exposure to asbestos is high intensity, and regular.
  • Any work on asbestos coatings.
  • Long duration work that will take 2 hours in a seven-day period.

There are some specific activities that generally require an asbestos license too, including (but not limited to):

If you need a license then you apply for one through the HSE as an “asbestos contractor” regardless of your relationship with the premises. For example, a license is required for external contractors, or if you are doing licensed asbestos work on your own property.

All licensed work is notifiable and you must give at least 14 days’ notice before any work starts. Furthermore, licensed work must be in compliance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 which was put in place to help minimise the chance of asbestos exposure. Who you must notify depends on the type of premises: 

  • Local Authority: Shops, offices, sports centres, hotels, camping sites, retail and wholesale storage, religious or church buildings, laundrettes.
  • HSE: Factories, construction sites, demolition sites, hospitals, local government services, civil engineering projects, docks, sea going ships, domestic premises, farms, quarries, mines, licensed nuclear sites.
  • ORR (Office of Rail and Road): Signal boxes, railways, rail lines. 

Asbestos License Application

To apply for an asbestos license, you must do so via the HSE website[2]. There is a 3-stage process including the application, assessment, and decision and some basic info includes:

  • New asbestos license applications typically take 8 weeks to process.
  • A new asbestos license fee is £3439.00.
  • An asbestos license lasts for one year.
  • A copy of the license should be displayed at any site you are working on.

It should also be noted that stage 2 of the process is a formal assessment which is done via a HSE representative.

NNLW  (Notifiable Non Licensed Work) and Non Licensed Work With Asbestos

The two categories beneath licensed work are NNLW and Non-Licensed Work. This type of asbestos work is generally on a smaller scale and poses less of a health hazard.

The person or company responsible for the work must decide whether the work is notifiable or not and full guidelines are found via the NNLW HSE page[3]. This includes examining the type of asbestos, the work involved, and the condition of the material.

Regardless, typical non-licensed asbestos work includes:

Although this work doesn’t require a license, you must still put appropriate controls in place and follow HSE guidelines for safe work with asbestos. It’s also advised that the people involved have taken an up-to-date asbestos awareness course.


Do you need a certificate to work with asbestos?

A certificate is not required to work with asbestos but you must have a license depending on the work you do. Asbestos awareness is required if asbestos is present on your premises, and an asbestos license is required for higher-risk work on a larger scale.

What is an asbestos license?

It is a type of permission regime which is governed by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). An asbestos license makes sure that workers comply with the strict regulations for removing and working with asbestos within a specified legal framework.

What makes asbestos notifiable?

NNLW (Notifiable Non-Licensed Work) with asbestos includes maintenance, removal, encapsulation, air monitoring, and sample collection. It is notifiable when the work is large scale such as when asbestos cement products need to be broken up, or asbestos products have to be removed as part of a premises refit.


[1] – UK GOV – License to Work With Asbestos (England, Wales & Scotland)

[2] – HSE – Asbestos Licensing

[3] – HSE – Notifiable Non-Licensed Work (NNLW)