Updated: October 2020
A guide to exemptions
In order to use an area as a campsite, you will usually require a camping or caravan licence and planning permission. However, in some cases under the Public Health Act 1936 (tents) and the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (caravans) there are some exemptions.
There are 2 main types of exemption certificates:
- Camping exemption certificate - for tents only
- Caravan exemption certificate - for caravans, campervans and motorhomes only
Both exemption certificates will be required if tents and caravans use the site at the same time.
Tented Camping Sites
Under Section 269 of the Public Health Act 1936, a site licence is required if a person:
- Allows any land occupied by them to be used for camping purposes on more than 42 consecutive days, or more than 60 days in any 12 consecutive months
- If the land is to be used for more than 28 days in any 12 months, planning permission must also be obtained for the site
Subject to the above conditions, a person shall not keep a moveable dwelling on any one site, or on two or more sites in succession, if any of those sites are within one hundred yards of each other.
The definition of a moveable dwelling can be found under Section 269 of the Public Health Act 1936 and includes:
- “Any tent, any van or other conveyance whether on wheels or not, and, subject as hereinafter provided, any shed or similar structure, being a tent, conveyance or structure which is used either regularly, or at certain seasons only, or intermittently, for human habitation.”
This definition does not include caravans or campervans
The following are exempt from the requirement for a tented camping site licence:
- A moveable dwelling which is kept by its owner on land occupied by them in connection with their dwelling, and is used for habitation only by the owner or by members of their household
- A moveable dwelling which is kept by its owner on agricultural land occupied by them and is used for habitation only at certain seasons, and only by persons employed in farming operations on that land
- A moveable dwelling while it is not in use for human habitation
This applies solely to tents, and any caravans or campervans onsite will require a separate caravan site licence
Under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, no occupier of land shall “cause or permit” any part of their land to be used as a caravan site, unless they hold a current site licence (issued by the Local Authority) in respect of the land.
The definitions of a caravan and caravan site can be found under Section 29 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 and include:
- A caravan is “any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted”. This does not include any railway rolling stock or any tent
- A caravan site is “land on which a caravan is stationed for the purposes of human habitation, and land which is used in conjunction with land on which a caravan is so stationed.”
The following are exempt from the requirement for a caravan site licence:
- Incidental use within the curtilage of a dwelling
- Sites used to occupy seasonal agricultural or forestry workers, certified travelling showmen, or building and engineering sites
- The stationing of a single caravan for no more than two consecutive nights for a maximum of 28 days in any 12 months
- Up to three caravans on a site of not less than five acres, for a maximum of 28 days in any 12 months
- Sites occupied by an exempted organisation such as the Caravan Club
- Sites approved by an exempted organisation for up to five caravans, who operate a members only policy
- Sites used for social get-togethers or meetings by exempted organisations (eg. a rally)
- Sites owned by a Local Authority
Further details regarding the above information can be found on the government website.
Until 31 December 2021, the Government has granted temporary permissions for up to 56 days, to allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without a planning application. This includes the use of land as a temporary campsite. Therefore, we understand that some landowners may wish to take advantage of these permitted development rights and operate temporary ‘pop up’ sites this summer.
As stated above, under the Public Health Act 1936, a site can be used for camping purposes for up to 42 consecutive days, or 60 days in any 12 consecutive months (but planning permission must be obtained for use longer than the period allowed under the permitted development rights). Thus, with the temporary permissions, the site can be used for a total of 42 consecutive days, or 56 non-consecutive days without a site licence or planning permission.
Certain exemptions apply for the stationing of caravans, motorhomes and campervans, as they may only be cited if an exemption under Schedule 1 of the Caravan Site and Control of Development Act 1960 applies. Please see the list of exemptions above for further information.
You can apply for an exemption for camping tents and/or caravans if your organisation promotes leisure and recreation. Certificates will be awarded subject to the organisation satisfying criteria relating to the conditions of the campsite and the constitution of the organisation.
Additionally, exempted organisations (eg. the Caravan Club and Camping and Caravanning Club) can permit themselves 'certified locations' (CLs) and 'certificated sites' (CSs), which operate without a site licence but are subject to a members only policy.
Use this link to find a list of the current organisations exempted under the Public Health Act 1936.
Notification of an Exemption Certificate
If you have been issued with an exemption certificate from an exempt organisation, please could you notify us.
If you believe you may be exempt from a camping and/or caravan licence, you can apply for an exemption certificate.
Additional information about caravan site legislation and licensing can be found on www.gov.uk.