6 February 2024

What is the Close Protection Licence?

With an SIA close protection licence, you’ll be able to work in the UK as a close protection operative or bodyguard. In order to qualify for this licence category, individuals have to complete training and pass a background check. 

This training covers everything a close protection officer will need to know to carry out their role. This includes things like threat and risk assessment, operational planning, conflict resolutions, evasive driving and surveillance.

Once secured, a close protection licence lasts for three years. After this point, the applicant must renew their licence. A close protection licence is a legal requirement if you wish to work as a close protection operative. Securing this type of licence will also enable you to work as a door supervisor or a security guard.

What is a close protection licence?

Close protection, often referred to as bodyguarding, is a specialised field that involves protecting individuals from potential threats or harm. Whether it’s a high-profile celebrity, a corporate executive or a dignitary, close protection professionals play a crucial role in ensuring their safety and security. 

However, working in this field requires more than just physical prowess and vigilance; it also demands proper training and licensing to operate legally and effectively. Unless you are employed “in-house” by a client to provide close protection, then you will usually need an SIA close protection licence to work.

Do I need a close protection licence?

Do I need a close protection licence?

Yes, if you want to work as a close protection officer in the UK, you’ll need this licence. This proves that you have undertaken the correct training and passed the background checks carried out by the governing body, the Security Industry Authority, or SIA.

Without this licence, you cannot work as a close protection agent in the UK. The only way you can work without a licence is if your employer has been granted an exemption under Section 4(4) of the Private Security Industry Act 2001.

Who can apply for a close protection licence?

To be eligible for a close protection licence in the UK, applicants must meet specific criteria set out by the SIA. In short, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Have the legal right to work in the UK
  • Have completed the relevant training

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate good character and meet the SIA’s standards for criminal activity and mental health. The SIA carries out background checks on all of its applicants to make sure they are not hiding any criminal convictions that might make them unsuitable for this type of work. In general, if you’ve been found guilty of a violent crime, you’re unlikely to qualify. 

How do I apply for this licence?

How do I apply for this licence?

You can’t get this licence overnight. It takes time to complete the training and then complete the background checks. These are the general steps you’ll need to follow, but every application is unique:

First, you have to check you are eligible. Speak to the SIA to find out if anything from your past might prevent you from becoming a close protection officer.

Next, find an accredited training course provider. The training typically takes 16-19 days, but be wary of any company offering a streamlined training programme or guaranteed results. There has been a crackdown recently on training providers that are less than reputable.

Once you have completed your training and passed all of the assessments, you can then gather the documents and complete your application. This is sent to the SIA and they will carry out background checks based on the information provided. 

If you are successful, your SIA photocard and licence will be delivered in the post. You are then able to start work as a close protection officer in the UK.

How much does it cost to become a close protection officer?

How much does it cost to become a close protection officer?

As of 2024, the application fee for a close protection officer licence is £184. This doesn’t include the cost of the training course, which could vary depending on where you take your course and which modules you choose. It’s possible to take on more training to enhance your employability. 

You might pay more for residential training courses, but these can help to immerse you in the training so that you are able to get more from the programme. 

How long does a close protection licence last?

Your close protection licence will be valid for three years. You can apply for your renewal around 3-6 months before the end of your licence so that you don’t have a break in your licence validity. 

You might need to take a refresher training course if the training has been updated significantly since you last qualified.

You’ll also need to pass the background checks again, as the SIA needs to confirm there are no new convictions on your criminal record or any mental health issues that could impact your work.

Anything else I need to know?

The Level 2 top up for Close Protection Operatives will bring you up to date with the new licence-linked qualifications requirements, as per the below:

  • Terror threat awareness 
  • Working as a door supervisor
  • Physical intervention skills