An SIA licence is a compulsory security guard license that any individual or security related business needs before they can undertaking designated activities within the private security industry. The SIA licence covers manned guarding, security guarding, door supervision, close protection, cash and valuables in transit, and public space surveillance using CCTV, key holding and vehicle immobilising.

What is the Private Security Industry

The term “private security” refers to any type of business or individual service that is provided without government oversight, the private security industry has expanded considerably in recent years. Private security concerns can be divided into three general categories; the provision of security personnel, alarm monitoring services, and in-house security staff.

The largest growth in the private security industry has been due to corporate outsourcing for day-to-day tasks that were once handled by government organizations, such as law enforcement. Private security now includes everything from executive protection to shopping center security. The private security industry has been criticized as a “shadow law enforcement community” because of the blurring of the line between national security and corporate interests.

In smaller communities, watchmen or guards would be employed by local merchants to patrol their shops. In some areas, wealthy landowners used professional body guards to protect themselves from highwaymen. The development of the police and the rise of common law provided a third type of security, as night watch patrols were no longer needed to ward off potential problems with day laborers and children out after curfew.

The private security industry continues to advance and evolve as new technologies and situations arise; for example, some companies now use GPS trackers and advanced surveillance equipment to improve security. As with other industries, the future of private security will rely on new technology and innovation.

History of the Security Industry Authority

Before the SIA Licence was created in 2004, the security industry didn’t have a national licencing system, with local councils licensing individuals to work at pubs and clubs locally, without any background checks of these individuals.

The SIA licence has given hundreds of thousands of people the chance of a career in a regulated and respected industry through their SIA training programs, raising the standards and removing or refusing unsuitable people from working in the industry.

An SIA Licence now means that Security companies only have to check that their employees have an active SIA licence, which means they can work in the role that their SIA licence says they can do.

For the SIA licence to come in, the government in 2003 had to create a non-departmental public body reporting to the Home Secretary, this was called the Security Industry Authority (SIA).

Who needs an SIA licence?

The ‘need’ for an SIA licence would be any individual or company who offers security services. However, it’s worth noting that if you are not working as a security officer, you do not legally need to have an SIA licence.

For example, if the only role for your company is to look after keys or any other non-security related activity then you will not need an SIA licence.

However, even if you don’t require an SIA license it is still worth having one as it will provide you with a ‘badge’ of credibility within the industry.

You have to have an SIA licence for any roles involving ‘key holding’ or door supervision, but there are also general requirements you must follow if you work as a security officer.


The SIA are responsible for licencing and regulating the security industry, ensuring that people within the industry are ‘fit and proper‘ as well as being qualified & trained to an acceptable level to do the job, before handing the individual an SIA licence.

They were setup to improve public safety making sure proper qualifications were gained and background checks are completed.

By determining the job that is performed and the activity of this role. You can decide if you need a licence. If the job or the activity is on the front line of any security related industry, then you need a SIA licence.

Working without a licence is a criminal offence and if found guilty can bring the maximum prison sentence of six months and/or a fine of £5000.

Types of Licence

There are two types of licence a Front-line SIA Licence and a Non-Front-line SIA Licence:

The Front-line SIA Licence is compulsory for any individual working in the security industry front line, Each licence is particular to the job in the industry, of example the SIA door supervisor licence is for SIA registered door staff, the cash and valuables in transit licence is for people that work transiting cash and valuables and the Security guard licence is for those that want to work as a security officer.

This is the same for manned guarding, security guarding, door supervision, close protection, public space surveillance using CCTV and vehicle immobilising, but doesn’t include key holding activities, The licence is a credit card sized plastic card and should always be worn when working in any of these duties.

A Non-Front-line SIA Licence is needed if you manage, supervise and/or employ individuals who engage in licensable activity. As long as your work doesn’t involve front line activity then this is the licence that should be held, this licence comes in the form of letter.

Contractors and security companies voluntarily sign up to the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) which allowed inspections by Certification Bodies on behalf of the SIA to ensure that companies who achieve the required standard can be registered as approved and aim to “raise performance standards and to assist the private security industry in developing new opportunities”.

The SIA also work with the UK border Agency to check individuals that are non-EEA nationals right to work, but these checks don’t replace the legal responsibilities to check their employee’s right to work.

Why is the door supervisor licence so popular

The door supervisor licence has become hugely popular in recent years with 65% of all the licences issued being that of door supervisors.

The most common reason people apply for the course is because of the high demand for security personnel across many organisations, not just pubs and clubs but also commercial businesses, government buildings and even residential homes.

To put it simply, there are employment opportunities waiting for those who have the door supervisor licence – and they are literally everywhere.

What’s more, it is not just about gaining employment as a door supervisor but also increasing one’s earning potential. It has been found that those working within this sector can earn up to £15 per hour which makes it an extremely attractive sector to work in for many people.

The Door Supervisor licence allows you to work at venues, pubs and clubs as well as a security guard in retail, shopping centers and as a static guard, this and the close protection licence are the only two that allow you to work as a door supervisor, so it is far more useful to have a DS licence compared to any of the others.

What does an SIA licence look like?

An SIA licence is issued in the form of small credit-card sized badge and comes with a corresponding number (SIA Number). The licence has your name and photo and the type of licence you have, for example door supervisor or close protection.

The SIA licence number is 11 digits long and can be found on the upper right hand side of your SIA licence. This is used to identify you when checking for potential offence in relation to your licence (when scanned at airports for example). If you need to change any details about yourself, like name changes, address changes, you must go through the SIA to update your licence.


An SIA licence is Compulsory for anyone that wants to in the security industry, it ensures that the industry keeps its reputation and people working within it are trustworthy, Qualified, fit and proper and responsible for the work they carry out. It covers all areas of the security industry and is managed by the Security Industry Authority.

You can see our other article on how to apply for sia licence here.