Distributing free printed and promotional material

If you want to distribute free printed matter or promotional material in Cheltenham you may need a permit. The council has designated certain areas of the borough as areas where permission to distribute free printed matter or promotional material is required.

Designated areas

What is classed as printed matter or promotional material?

“Free printed matter” includes printed items such as free newspapers, leaflets, flyers, pamphlets, stickers and promotional supplements. It can also include other promotional printed matter such as scarves, sun glasses or caps.

What does free mean?

Printed matter is free if it is distributed without charge to the persons who receive it.

What does 'distribute' mean?

'Distribute means to give free printed matter out, or offer to make it available, to members of the public. It includes placing it on, or affixing it to, vehicles but does not include putting it inside a building or letter-box. This will also apply to printed material distributed to the public from a vehicle or stand.


The following are exempt from licensing requirements:

  • the distribution of printed matter by or on behalf of a charity within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993, where the printed matter relates to or is intended for the benefit of the charity;
  • where the distribution is for political purposes or for the purposes of a religion or belief;
  • a person who distributes the free printed matter by delivering it into a building or letter-box.

How to apply for a permit

  1. Complete the application form; and
  2. Pay the required fee.

Please note: applications must be made no less than ten working days before the date you would like to start to distribute free printed matter.

The council may use the information provided for the prevention and detection of fraud. We also share this information for auditing purposes.


The council reserves the right to refuse to give consent to any applicant where we consider that the proposed distribution would likely lead to defacement of the designated land. Where this happens the applicant will be informed of the decision and the reasons for refusal. Examples of where this might occur is where an applicant has caused defacement on a previous occasion or where there is a distribution planned that is of such a scale and/or planned in such a way that the distributors are unable to meet the standard conditions.

The council also reserve the right to refuse to give consent if the applicant has been convicted of an offence of distributing free printed matter without consent within the last five years, or paid a fixed penalty notice relating to this offence in the last three years.

Refused applicants may appeal to the Magistrates' Court against the refusal.

Permit conditions