What is a waste carrier, broker and dealer? Find out more

Our consultants see issues regarding waste at almost every site we carry out environmental legal compliance audits for. This is why we’ve prepared this article to help understand the differences between waste carriers, brokers and dealers.


  • Carrier – a person who collects or carries waste.
  • Dealer – any person that buys waste with the aim of subsequently selling it (including where they don’t take physical possession of the waste).
  • Broker – any person that arranges waste transportation and / or the management of waste on behalf of another party, e.g. local authorities contracting out waste services to another firm.

If you are any of the above, you must be registered with the relevant environmental regulator.


In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are 2 tiers of registration for carrying, brokering and dealing in waste – ‘lower tier’ and ‘upper tier’.

The same principles apply in Scotland, but there are no lower and upper tiers. Instead, if you carry, broker or deal in waste, you must register as either a ‘professional collector and transporter of waste’ or a ‘waste carrier’. A registration is only required if waste is carried as part of a business activity.

It is a legal requirement, and you will be committing an offence if you do not register and maintain that registration as required.

Lower Tier (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) / Professional Collector and Transporter of Waste (Scotland)

A person or business will need to register as a lower tier / a professional collector and transporter of waste if they:

  • only carry waste they produced in the course of carrying out their own business, unless it is construction or demolition waste;
  • only carry (carrier), arrange (broker) or deal (dealer) in:
    • animal by-products;
    • waste from mines and quarries; or
    • waste from agricultural premises;
  • are a charity or voluntary organisation; or
  • are a waste collection, disposal or regulation authority.

Lower tier carriers can also be known as ‘specified persons’.

It is free to register as lower tier and the registration does not expire.

Some examples of a lower tier waste carrier / a professional collector and transporter of waste include:

  • a carpet fitter who takes away offcuts after fitting a carpet;
  • businesses that collect confidential waste paper from multiple sites to be centralised and collected at their head office; and
  • a solicitor taking waste paper to a paper merchant for recycling once a month.

Upper Tier (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) / Waste Carrier (Scotland)

A person or business will need to register as upper tier / a waste carrier if they:

  • transport waste produced from other people or businesses;
  • carry construction and demolition waste;
  • arrange for waste from other businesses to be transported, recovered or disposed of (broker); or
  • buys or sells waste, or uses an agent to do so (dealer).

There is a fee to register, and registration lasts for 3 years.

Examples of an upper-tier waste carrier / waste carrier include:

  • a waste management company collecting waste from multiple businesses;
  • a scrap metal dealer collecting metal from a business; and
  • a plumber carrying waste pipework taken away from a job.


England and Wales

Section 34 of Environmental Protection Act 1990  sets out a number of duties regarding waste, in particular how waste must be managed correctly by storing it correctly and only transferring it to an appropriately authorised person / business.

The Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011  sets out the requirement for carriers, brokers and dealers of controlled waste to be registered with the EA in England and NRW in Wales.


Section 34 of Environmental Protection Act 1990  sets out a number of duties in relation to waste, in particular how waste must be managed correctly by storing it correctly and only transferring it to an appropriately authorised person / business.

The requirement to register as a carrier or broker of controlled waste is contained the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations 1991.

Northern Ireland

The Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999  introduce a system of registration for waste carriers.

The Waste (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2011  introduce a 2 tier system for waste carrier, broker and dealer registration. It also makes consequential amendments to several other pieces of legislation.


You do not need a waste carrier, broker or dealer registration if you:

  • move waste between different places on your own site;
  • are a householder carrying waste produced at home and not as the result of any business activity;
  • are a ferry operator transporting waste-carrying vehicles;
  • operate vessels, aircraft, hovercraft, marine structures, floating containers or vehicles that carry waste and have a marine licence or marine licence exemption;
  • are a landowner removing fly-tipping from your land;
  • only carry waste between different places within the same premises; or
  • import waste into the UK, and the waste is landed in its final location (you will need to register to transport the waste anywhere by land, e.g. by train or lorry).


For cross border transfers of waste in the UK, you only need to register once with one regulator for any movement of waste between England (EA), Wales (NRW) and Scotland (SEPA). For transport to and from Northern Ireland, you will need to register with the NIEA in addition to another regulator in the UK.


Registrations can be viewed on the register of carriers, brokers and dealers for each regulator. Each regulator has a slightly different register for recording authorised carriers, brokers and dealers.

  • Environment Agency register is an online register which allows you to search by the name of a business or their registration number. You are also able to search by upper and lower tier registrations.
  • Natural Resources Wales register is a spreadsheet which lists all registered carriers, brokers and dealers. You can search this by filtering the relevant columns, search by clicking on the magnifying glass icon, or you can press CTRL+F on your keyboard and a search window will open.
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency register is an online table which allows you to search by registration number, business name or address/postcode. If you wish to confirm whether a registration is in place for a professional collector and transporter of waste, then you will need to contact the SEPA on 03000 99 66 99.

All businesses have a duty of care obligation to ensure that controlled waste is transported and disposed of legally and safely. Regularly checking the registrations of any waste contractors who collect waste or arrange for it to be collected from your premises helps to meet this obligation.