What To Know About Distributing Leaflets in the UK

Written By Alla Levin
August 24, 2021

What To Know About Distributing Leaflets in the UK

Whichever part of the United Kingdom you walk around in, you will find that it is still quite common to find flyers and leaflets being distributed. People use them to find lost dogs, missing persons, robbed valuables, and other such things.

But a large percentage of businesses use leaflets for marketing purposes as well. They send them out via letterbox drops and hand-to-hand marketing. To understand why leaflet distribution UK still works, looking at its legalities and other details will help.

Is it legal?

Handing out free leaflets or flyers is perfectly legal in the UK in most cases. But if you are planning to do it as a part of some campaign, you may need to get some permits beforehand. Else, you may end up committing an offense and may even face punitive charges. So, it is best to be aware of all legalities before launching a campaign.

When do you need permission?

The most prominent case where you need prior permission to send out leaflets is the hand-to-hand distribution method. If you are planning this, it would be wise to check the regulations of your target area beforehand, as each may have a different set of rules.

For instance, you can distribute leaflets in only certain areas in Leeds after paying a certain amount of money per batch of leaflets for each distributor. But in Manchester, you can hand out free flyers once you have the go-ahead from the city council.

Cases where you don’t need permission to distribute leaflets

You do not require permission for leaflet distribution in the UK in the following delivery instances:

  • For charity;
  • Inside a taxi, building, or bus;
  • Distribution through letterboxes;
  • Flyers are based on religious, political, or other beliefs.

Many marketers consider door-to-door flyers and leaflet distribution to be among the most effective methods. That’s because it entails recipients picking up the leaflet from their doormats and engaging in its content.

Distribution penalty

The UK government introduced the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act in 2005 to prevent flyer and leaflet littering. It enables the local authorities to control flyer distribution and hold lawbreakers accountable.

For this reason, you need to apply for appropriate licenses and obtain permission to distribute leaflets in certain areas. Failing this, you could face a fixed penalty of up to £80. In some cases, you may even have to pay around £2,500 or more in fines.

If you succeed in obtaining a license but break protocol and distribute leaflets outside of the permitted zone, the same penalties as above will apply. It is also likely that your license will be canceled and the remaining leaflets confiscated until legal proceedings are completed.

Does it work?

A 2018 study came up with interesting numbers for direct mail marketing in the UK. According to the report, 57% of the people who received advertising mail addressed to them opened it just as it arrived. But the average revisit frequency was 3.6 times for leaflets and flyers.

This is encouraging news for businesses that invest in flyers and leaflet distribution as it reinforces their faith in people paying attention to this kind of marketing.

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