Distributing leaflets in the city centre

You need a consent permit from us to hand out leaflets and other literature in the city centre. We will give you a permit that shows you are entitled to distribute literature.

What you can distribute

You can distribute anything we consider free literature, which includes:

  • leaflets, pamphlets or cards advertising your business
  • stickers
  • free Newspapers
  • documents
  • takeaway menus and other promotional material
Handing out products or samples

You cannot use this consent to hand out products or samples or use a static space for equipment etc. A permit can be obtained separately for this type of activity. Contact us for further information.

Where you can distribute

Once you have received consent you can distribute on Council owned land anywhere within the city centre boundary.

Map of where you can distribute leaflets

You can distribute anywhere here except in the Peace Gardens and Winter Garden (pink shaded areas). Permission should be obtained from the land owners to distribute in privately owned spaces like Leopold Square and Orchard Square.

Map showing where you can distribute leaflets

Who can apply for consent

You can apply if your business or organisation wants to distribute information within the city centre boundary.

Who doesn't need to apply

If you are handing out literature for a charity (within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993) or where the distribution is for a political or religious purpose you do not need our consent, although you still need to abide by the Conditions for leafleting. The distribution of free literature through a letter box or vehicle is also excluded from the scheme. Charities leaflets must display their charity number.

How long a consent permit will last

You can apply for a consent that lasts for a year or for 30 days.


Once approved and on receipt of the relevant payment, we will issue you with a permit that will be emailed to the address on the application form. You need to have the permit with you while handing out leaflets or, if several permits are purchased, each distributor will need their own available for inspection. A replacement charge of £30 is made for consent badges which are lost or stolen. Contact us in this case.

Consents can be used by more than one person provided that they are not working at the same time.


You can apply for as many permits as you need. The cost will increase for each additional permit.

A first annual permit costs £90. To add a second permit costs a further £120, meaning the cost for two permits would be £210. To add a third permit costs £180, so the cost for three permits would be £390.

It will cost another £213 to add a fourth permit or any additional permit after this it.

Type of Permit

Fee (Tax exempt)

Number of permits required

Monthly consent permit



1st annual consent permit


(max 1)

2nd annual consent permit


(max 1)

3rd annual consent permit


(max 1)

Any further additional consent permits



Replacement for a lost consent permit



What you need to provide with your application

You will need to send us:

  • a copy of the leaflet you want to distribute. We will contact you by email for this
Consent permit conditions

All Consents will be subject to the following conditions. Consents may also be subject to specific conditions based upon the application details.

The Consent holder remains fully responsible for the safety of the distributors whilst distributing materials or whilst removing litter.

  1. All staff engaged in the distribution of free literature shall hold a copy of the authorisation permit issued by the City Council, bearing the number(s) of the authorisation permit and showing the name and contact telephone number of the Consent holder.
  2. The authorisation permit shall be produced on demand to an authorised officer of the Council or other relevant agency.
  3. Authorisation permits are not interchangeable/transferable between Consent holders and all distributors using them must be directly employed by the Consent holder.
  4. The Consent holder must maintain, and make available for inspection upon request, a log/database of the name and addresses of all distributors used, together with their date of birth and National Insurance numbers. The log shall record where and when the distributors were operating, materials being offered, and the authorisation permit being used.
  5. Applicants must apply from a Sheffield based address, or provide a statement detailing how the applicant proposes to ensure that there is local management and accountability to prevent litter occurring as a result of the free distribution of printed matter and to remove any resultant litter
  6. No free printed matter shall be left unattended by staff for the general public to take at their discretion.
  7. All places in which free printed matter is being distributed must be kept free of discarded matter so that the area does not fall below Grade B of the Government's "Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse" at any time. If an authorised officer of the Council considers that the standard has been breached as a consequence of the distribution of free printed matter, his/her assessment will be definitive at the time.
  8. If an authorised officer requests the Consented staff to pick up discarded printed matter, the staff member shall do so immediately. The distributor will stop distribution until the materials on pedestrian areas have been removed and the area restored to Grade A within the hour and materials on trafficked roads restored to Grade A within 6 hours.
  9. Free printed matter includes self-adhesive promotional material.
  10. The Consent permit and free printed matter must bear the contact details of the company/brand or venue or event that is being promoted.
  11. Applications for annual Consents must be made not less than 7 days before the period of distribution. Sheffield City Council must approve a sample of the literature to be distributed before Consent is issued. This decision will be final.
  12. Consents will be subject to the payment of a fee to be paid on approval of the application, and prior to receipt of the permits.
  13. No free printed matter shall be placed on parked vehicles, attached to parked vehicles or fixed to parked vehicles.
  14. No free printed matter, which clearly encourages irresponsible gambling and/or consumption of alcohol, can be issued. This includes irresponsible drinks promotions (such as: an all-inclusive drinks offer when paying for entry; or drink all you can for a fixed amount), which will not be allowed. Responsible promotions for alcohol or gambling must carry the DrinkAware / BeGambleAware messages.
  15. A copy of the leaflet will be requested, which can be sent by email, prior to approval.
  16. Free printed matter being distributed by charitable organisations must show the charity number.
  17. Sheffield City Council reserves the right to instruct an authorised permit holder to move to an alternative location at any time.
  18. It is the authorised permit holder's responsibility to ensure areas are free to use prior to arrival on site (i.e. civic events, civil works, deliveries, etc.).
  19. Fraudulent use of permits will result in the organisation concerned being banned from the scheme
  20. Expired permits can be either returned when applying for a new Consent period or destroyed by the holder

Free Literature Consent Scheme - Frequently Asked Questions

How many permits can I apply for?

An applicant can apply for as many permits as they need, but each permit will have to be paid for in advance.

Consents are issued to a named Consent holder who will be responsible for issuing the permits to their distribution staff. As a Consent holder you must ensure that you have enough permits to cover the people that you have distributing free literature at any one time.

What is Free Printed Matter?

This includes:

  • Leaflets, pamphlets or cards advertising your business
  • Stickers
  • Free Newspapers
  • Documents
  • Takeaway menus and other promotional material

Where does the Consent allow me to distribute free literature?

Once you have received Consent you can distribute free literature on Council owned land anywhere within the city centre boundary as marked in green, other than the Peace Gardens, Winter Garden and any pink shaded areas. Permission should be obtained from the land owner to distribute in privately owned spaces, ie. Leopold Square and Orchard Square.

What details are on the Consent permit?

The Consent permit contains the name of the Consent holder, organisation name, distributing on behalf of brand or product (if applicable), telephone number, a permit number, and dates when valid. Consent permits must be available for inspection at all times when literature is being distributed.

How long does a Consent last?

Consents last for a period of 12 months from the date of issue, or in the case of a monthly Consent for 30 days.

How can you pay for the Consent?

If your permit is approved, the fee is paid through the Council’s online payments system by debit or credit card before any permits are issued.

Where is the Free Literature Consents Office situated?

City Centre Management, 2nd Floor, Moor Market Office Suite, 77 The Moor, Sheffield, S1 4PF. Please note that personal callers will only be seen by prior appointment please telephone 0114 2736895.

How long does it take to obtain Consent?

Applications for Consent usually take up to 5 working days to process. (Please allow extra time for 2nd Class postage)

Can I use the Consent in the morning and allow someone else to use it in the afternoon?

Consents can be used by more than one person provided that they are not working at the same time.

What happens if I lose my Consent permit?

A replacement charge of £30 is made for Consent permits which are lost or stolen.

Are there any exemptions under the scheme?

There are exemptions under the scheme for free literature which is distributed by or on behalf of a charity (within the meaning of the Charities Act 1993) or where the distribution is for a political purpose or purpose of a religion or belief. The distribution of free literature through a letter box or vehicle is also excluded from the scheme. NOTE: for charities, the leaflet must show the charity number.

What will happen if someone is caught distributing free literature without a Consent permit?

Any person who distributes free printed matter without Consent from the Council may be committing an offence and could be liable on conviction in a Magistrates’ Court to a fine up to £2,500. An offence is committed if someone causes another person to distribute free printed matter in a designated area without Consent. The person commissioning the actual distributor therefore also commits an offence. Authorised Enforcement officers may offer the person distributing the literature the opportunity to discharge the liability to conviction for the offence by paying a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100.

What happens once you have made an application

Once you have submitted your application, an officer will review the details of your request and then confirm whether your application will be approved. We will aim to do this within 7 working days.

If we approve your application you will then need to make payment as soon as possible.

Once we receive payment, we will issue you with a permit by:

  • email (in PDF format) to the address provided
  • or printed permits which can be collected from the Customer Service Desk at the Moor Market

Tacit consent will not apply

This means it is in the public interest that we process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within 15 working days you should contact us. 

Apply for a leaflet distribution consent permit

How to make an appeal or a complaint

You should contact us if you want to appeal our decision or make a complaint.

Members of the public who are experiencing problems with distribution of leaflets should contact us for advice.

Contact City Centre Management

Moor Markets Management Suite
77 The Moor
S1 4PF

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