Surf shop legal issues

Man showing customer multiple different surfboards in surf shop

You need to comply with a certain amount of legislation that applies to all retailing businesses. The following is an overview of what might be relevant to you.

What licences does a surf shop need?

There are no licensing requirements relating specifically to surf shops.

You should, however, be aware of the following:

  • if credit terms are offered to customers you will need consumer credit authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • if background music is provided in the shop you will need a Music Licence from PPL PRS Ltd. There is an annual fee for this which you can pay online on the PPL PRS website
  • if your business keeps records of customers' details - perhaps as part of an e-commerce operation - or uses a CCTV system, it must be registered as a data user with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
  • if you sell second-hand goods you may need to register with your local authority and obtain a licence, although you will not need one if dealing in second-hand goods is only incidental to your main retail business (not all local authorities license second-hand dealers)


There is a wide range of legislation that applies to retail outlets and that protects the interests of the consumer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described and the retail price of goods must be clearly displayed. You will be responsible for making sure that all goods or services are fit for their intended purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Selling online

If you sell goods online then there's special legislation that applies to your business. It covers matters like the information you must give on your website, distance selling and email privacy. There's detailed guidance on your legal obligations to consumers, and on the requirements when selling online, on the Trading Standards Business Companion website. Information about special legislation for online retailers is also available on the website.

Carrier bag charge

A 5 pence charge applies in England, but small and medium-sized businesses (with fewer than 250 full-time equivalent employees) are exempt. You can get detailed guidance from the website.

Retailers in Wales and Scotland must charge customers at least 5 pence if they supply them with a single-use carrier bag. This applies to all types of single-use bag, whether they are made of plastic, paper or plant-based starch. There is detailed guidance on the Gov.Wales and Zero Waste Scotland websites.

In Northern Ireland retailers must charge customers a 5 pence levy on all bags with a retail price of less than 20 pence (including any bags that would otherwise be free of charge), whether they are single-use or reusable.

Health & Safety, fire

You must comply with workplace health and safety and fire safety legislation.

Employment legislation

Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important areas of legislation include recruitment, employment contracts, pay, working hours, holidays, employment policies, sickness, maternity, paternity, discrimination, discipline, grievances, dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals.

Insurance for a surf shop

Contact an insurer or insurance broker and explain exactly how your business will operate - they will then explain what insurance cover you must have by law, and other cover you should consider. This might include:

  • premises, premises contents and stock
  • goods in transit (being collected or delivered)
  • cash
  • business interruption
  • employer's liability
  • public liability. It is important that you have the appropriate level of public liability cover if you are offering surfing lessons
  • product liability
  • motor insurance

It is worth noting that some buying groups offer their members special insurance policies, which might save you money and provide the level of cover you need. The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) also offers insurance services to its members.

When comparing insurance quotes, uncover the differences between policies by using an insurance comparison form.

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