What Is An SIA Licence And Why Is It Important?

As security industry professionals, there’s a lot of necessary expectation that falls to us. Understanding how to best keep people safe and secure in a range of different environments, as well as the best strategies for managing and de-escalating conflict, are crucial skills in the repertoire of an effectively trained security guard.

Alongside those key skills, however, is the SIA licence, an absolute necessity for anyone working in the security industry in any capacity. But what is an SIA licence, and why is it such an integral component for anyone looking to work in security? We’ll explore:

  • What Is An SIA Licence?
  • Why Is An SIA Licence Important?
  • What Are The Different Types Of SIA Licences?
  • How Can I Get An SIA Licence?
  • How Much Does An SIA Licence Cost?
  • Do I Need To Renew My SIA Licence?

At Churchill Support Services, we fully understand the need for effective licensing in the security industry, and what that means for the exceptional professionals who work for us. With this article, we’ll break down the importance of this, as well as what it means for your career.


What Is An SIA Licence?

An SIA (Security Industry Authority) Licence is an essential authorisation needed to work in any area or sector of security. It’s the basic requirement you need to become a security officer or guard, or to work as a door supervisor at properly licensed premises and events.

First established in 2003, the Security Industry Authority was established to better regulate and ensure the quality of the private security industry. It sought to provide much more stability and security to what’s an essential part of both the private and public sectors.

It provides the relevant licensing to those who work in security, as well as approves private security companies (such as Churchill Support Services) to be part of its prestigious Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS).

For a security professional, an SIA licence will allow you to work across a huge range of sectors and roles, which include:

  • Door Supervisor – Monitoring those who enter and leave an approved premises (such as pubs, bars, or private functions).
  • Security Guard – Guarding and ensuring the safety and security of a property or premises. Most commonly seen on reception duties, or at the entrance to a place with high footfall (such as a supermarket, hotel, or hospital).
  • Mobile Security – Offering patrols of a premises to ensure its safety and security. These often happen overnight, but can also be done during the day for vacant properties or larger premises.
  • Close Protection – Also often called bodyguards, close protection officers will work alongside a person, providing them with security as and when necessary. These are usually VIPs or diplomats, but anyone can request close protection.
  • CCTV Operator – Generally in charge of monitoring the CCTV cameras on a premises (usually a larger place, such as a university or hospital), and responding to any incidents that occur.
  • Key Holding – This involves holding onto a separate key for a premises or locked door, and ensuring that only those who’ve been authorised can have access.
  • Vehicle Immobilisation – Only applicable to those working in Northern Ireland, this means any work that involves clamping or otherwise restricting the movement of a vehicle, and charging the owner a fee to release it.

There’s no alternative or way round the SIA licensing procedure – it’s an essential part of working in the security industry, and offers reassurance to potential employers that you understand the importance and gravity of what you do as a security professional.


Why Is An SIA Licence Important?

As we’ve just touched on, the SIA licence is an unavoidable authorisation you’ll need if you want to work in the security industry. It’s a legal requirement to work in the private security industry, and to work as a door supervisor across any venue in the UK.

By becoming licensed through the Security Industry Authority, you’re certifying that you’re committed to a career in the security sector. It shows that you’ve undergone the proper and effective training to certify you as someone who’s capable of delivering an effective security service, and that you’ve got no prior convictions or incidents that could impact that.

Not only that, but it’s been proven time and again that those who go through the SIA licensing process are able to apply for more notable roles, and therefore command a higher wage.

This is most evident with private sector security positions compared to in-house ones (such as working for a supermarket) – they generally have a higher base rate of pay, and more control over the hours and days you work.

Plus, with an SIA licence under your belt, you can continue to progress through the ranks of security to higher paid and more influential positions, becoming a supervisor or manager. In fact, that’s the exact career path that much of the upper management here at Churchill have taken.

An SIA licence also allows you take on further training, including first aid qualifications, which in turn make you a much more appealing prospect to potential employers and premises. Security guards are often the first on scene in the event of an emergency, and having experience in first aid or CPR is a highly desirable trait.


What Are The Different Types Of SIA Licences?

There are two different types of SIA licences – a front line licence, and a non-front line licence. There’s a couple of key differences between these, which we’ll break down now.


Front Line SIA Licence

A front line SIA licence allows you to get directly involved with security activities, dealing with the general public and responding to any issues or threats to security. It’s what many immediately think of when they hear about an SIA-licensed professional.

There’s 3 categories of front line SIA licences:

  • Security Guarding Licence – This covers you to act as a security guard, and use CCTV to monitor the site and identify any trespassers or potential threats.
  • Door Supervision Licence – In addition to the duties mention above, you’re also able to work as a door supervisor, monitoring the attendance of events.
  • Close Protection Licence – As well as the duties mentioned in security guarding and door supervision licences, you’re also able to work as a close protection officer, guarding VIPs or a single person as part of your duties.
  • Cash & Valuables In Transit Licence – This licence allows you to guard property against theft or damage, as well as transporting it in a vehicle that’s designed for secure transportation (such as an armoured vehicle).
  • Public Space Surveillance Licence – This allows you to utilise CCTV equipment to watch members of the public, identify particular people, guard against disorder, protect the general public from any risks, and otherwise guard property, premises and people.

One thing to note here is that all front line licences allow you to perform the duties afforded by non-front line licences. This means that, if you’ve got any of the above licences, you don’t need an additional one to perform any non-front line duties.


Non-Front Line Licence

The counterpart to the front line licence we’ve just discussed, the non-front line licence qualifies you for a select few duties that relate to the security industry. This includes:

  • Key Holding – Holding onto a copy or separate set of keys for a lock or premises, in order to keep them only accessible to authorised personnel.
  • Working in a management, supervisory or employer role with others who carry out front line duties or roles
  • Being a director or partner at a company or firm that deals in security

Generally, we would advise those looking to get into the security industry to opt for a front line licence, as this allows you to experience security duties on the front line, while still being able to complete the roles mentioned above.


How Can I Get An SIA Licence?

To get an official SIA licence, you’ll first need to complete an SIA-accredited course. We’d strongly advise sourcing these through the official SIA Training Providers Page, as there have been incidents of fraudulent course providers masquerading as an accredited course provider.

The options currently listed on the SIA’s page are:

These courses range in price, with a qualification in door supervision costing an average of £240, and close protection qualifications costing upwards of £2,000. While this initial outlay may seem steep, it’s an unavoidable first hurdle into the security industry. We’ll examine costs more in our next section.

Once you’ve completed an accredited training, you’ll need to apply for your SIA licence by creating an account on the SIA website. This is a relatively simple process, but there are certain things you’ll need to have with you to ensure that the application is completed as smoothly as possible:

  • You must be over the age of 18. You cannot apply to work in the security industry if you’re under 18.
  • Your driving licence (either full or provisional), if you have one – You’ll need this as a form of identification.
  • Your valid UK passport, if you have one – This will be an additional form of identification.
  • Any details of past addresses from the past 5 years – You’ll need to provide address details for the past 5 years.
  • Details of any past criminal convictions – The SIA will undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to ensure you’ve got a clear record.
  • Details of any detainments under the Mental Health Act – You must let the SIA know about any compulsory periods of detention as part of mental health legislation over the past 5 years.

The application process is around 10 pages, and can take upwards of 20 minutes to complete, so ensure you’ve got plenty of time to double check what you’ve said. Any false information can jeopardise your application, and result in you being disqualified from applying for the SIA.

You may also be asked to provide documentation to support your identity, name and address, but these can be submitted as a photograph or a scanned copy through the SIA online account.


How Much Does An SIA Licence Cost?

As we touched on earlier, there are a couple of different costs associated with becoming licensed by the Security Industry Authority. Of course, there’s the initial cost of getting your relevant qualification. As a recap, here’s a brief look at how much that might cost you:

  • Security Guard courses cost around £200 on average
  • Door Supervision courses will set you back around £240. This is what many often choose as their introduction to the security industry.
  • Close Protection courses are the most expensive, costing upwards of £2000.

Once you’ve finished your course, you’ll then need to pay a fee to become accredited with the SIA. This fee helps keep the SIA afloat, contributes towards further funding and schemes for the development of the security industry, and further reaffirms your commitment to working in the security sector.

Your first licence with the SIA costs £184, but bear in mind that some licences cover you across multiple areas. Looking back at our previous section, here’s a quick overview of how the licences from the SIA work:

  • A Public Space Surveillance Licence allows you to guard property, premises and people against theft or danger using CCTV equipment, as well as watch members of the general public, identify any possible threats, and work alongside the emergency services to provide information where necessary.
  • A Security Guard licence covers you for basic security guarding duties, as well as checking and utilising CCTV cameras as part of your role.
  • A Door Supervisor licence encompasses everything from the Security Guard licence, as well as allowing you to work in door supervisory roles.
  • A Close Protection licence encompasses both the Door Supervisor and Security Guard licences, as well as covering you to work in a 1-to-1 capacity as a close protection officer or bodyguard.
  • A Cash & Valuables In Transit licence allows you to work protecting property or valuable against theft, and utilising a specialist vehicle to transport those valuables.


Most people choose the Door Supervision licence as their first, simply as that allows them to get out into the field as soon as possible, and fully experience front line security. The biggest barrier to entry for the Close Protection officer role is naturally the cost, but it’s also true that these roles are much less common, and will often go to those with more experience in the industry.

You can also choose to purchase multiple licences, and the SIA will provide a discount of 50% on any subsequent ones you purchase, making the price £92, as opposed to £184. You might choose to do this because you’ve got an additional qualification, or you’d like to become licensed to further develop in the security sector.

The only exception to this is the Vehicle Immobilisation licence (only available in Northern Ireland), which isn’t subject to the same discount, and so will cost £184 regardless.

As an example, if you wanted to go from no prior experience to a full qualified and SIA-licensed door supervisor, you’d need to pay approximately £424, with £240 of that being for your initial Door Supervision course and the remaining £184 for your SIA licence.


Do I Need To Renew My SIA Licence?

Your SIA licence lasts for 3 years, after which time you’ll need to undergo a renewal or “top-up” course. This ensures that you’re still as up-to-date with the latest developments in the security industry, and that you’re confident in your abilities.

You’re able to apply for a licence renewal up to 4 months before your current licence expires, and it’s recommended that you submit your renewal request sooner rather than later, just so you can avoid being unable to work for any period of time due to delays in processing.

Any time you had remaining on your licence will then be added to your new licence, meaning you don’t lose out on anything. Plus, your new licence will be activated from the day it’s granted, so you’ll experience no disruption to your working schedule.

The cost of a licence renewal is the same as a new licence – £184. This is another unavoidable part of working in the security industry, and is necessary if you want to continue working in the sector. All of the same checks are carried out on renewals as they are on a new licence application.

Occasionally, you may be required to take additional training as part of this renewal process, but this is only when new topics have been added that are integral to you performing your role. A good example of this happened in April 2021, when the SIA introduced a compulsory training module on first aid.


Choosing Churchill For SIA-Licensed Security Professionals

At Churchill Support Services, we’re exceptionally proud of all the people we bring on board with us, and that’s especially true of our superb security personnel. All of the guards, supervisors and close protection professionals we employ have full SIA-licensing and the necessary qualifications.

We employ the very cream of the crop, and aim to uphold the stellar reputation we’ve built up across the last 27 years through exceptional service, consummate professionalism and a strong understanding of the security industry.

If you’re looking to work for us, check out our vacancies page here. Alternatively, if you’re looking for superb, tailormade security solutions for your event or business, get in touch with our knowledgeable team today for your free, no obligation quote.

Emily Macaulay

Director of Sales

Emily is responsible for business growth and account development via new sales. She leads the Business Development teams through strategic goals and objectives in line with business targets and strategy. Emily is a friendly, approachable and a respected senior manager at Churchill who always strives to deliver service excellence.