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prior permission

Most services can be set up without icstis' prior permission. However, certain services that have been found to pose a greater risk of causing consumer harm may not be provided unless icstis has first granted permission.

These include:

  • services involving two-way live conversation
    (other than those exempted by Notice)
  • chatline (multi-party chat) services
  • consumer credit services (view fact sheet)
  • counselling services (view fact sheet)
  • services charged at more than 1 per minute where the total cost of the call can exceed 30
  • services charged at more than 1.50 per minute
  • remote gambling services (view additional conditions)
  • any premium rate service utilising a dialler, regardless of price

For more information, click here to view help note: Prior Permission

how to apply for prior permission
In order to apply for prior permission, you must first register your company as a service provider, by submitting the form below.

Register as a Service Provider

Once registered, you will be e-mailed a unique service provider registration number (SPN). Please note you are only required to register as a Service Provider once.

You will require your SPN if you wish to register your premium rate number(s) and service(s) and, if required, you will be prompted to apply for prior permission.

If you wish to operate more than one service that requires prior permission, you are required to apply separately for each one. Each individual service must have its own prior permission certificate in order to operate.   

 Register new Number(s) and Service(s)

applicants should note the following conditions:


It is the service provider (individual, company or organisation contracting with a network operator for the premium rate numbers) that needs to apply for prior permission, even where the service provider is acting as an 'aggregator', 'reseller' or 'bureau' providing the service on a client's behalf (the 'information provider'). Application forms must be submitted with a mock-up of promotional material and if any promotion will be by word of mouth, the mock-up should be in the form of a script. Failure to provide all the required information may result in a delay in processing an application.


To cover the staff, management and Board costs of administrating the application procedure, a charge of 300 plus VAT must be paid at the time of submission. Please note this charge is applied even in the event that the application is unsuccessful. The application charge can be paid online, by credit or debit card, at the same time as you submit your application or, provided you meet the necessary criteria, by invoice. 

In order to make a payment by invoice you will be required to apply for a Prior Permission payment account and be granted an account before proceeding with the prior permission application.

When a application has been granted permission, the service provider will be sent a permission certificate. The network operator will need to see the certificate before activating the associated premium rate number(s).

Most applications should take three to four weeks to process. For some types of service, however, such as live entertainment, counselling and consumer credit the processing time may take longer. Where an application form is incomplete or further information is needed from the applicant, the processing time will be extended.  

The icstis Board retains discretion to refuse applications or to seek further information.

additional conditions if applying for live entertainment services

Applicants wishing to offer live entertainment services, including one-to-one live chat, live psychic/tarot and multi-party chat should note the following:

compensation scheme
All service providers offering live services are required to have compensation arrangements in place before the service is started. A non-returnable sum of 7,500 must be paid into a Compensation Fund and in addition, a Compensation Bond needs to be lodged (this is approximately 15,000 for one-to-one chat and 7,500 for psychic/tarot).   

recording requirements
Providers of live entertainment services are required to record all calls using icstis-approved recording equipment. For more information, click here to view the 
recording equipment requirements and a list of approved suppliers.

additional information if applying for dialler services

Following the statement announcing our intention to license all premium rate services that use dialler software, icstis issued a formal notice detailing all the criteria that must be satisfied before prior permission to operate such services will be granted.

In addition, Ofcom extended the definition of controlled premium rate services (CPRS), in June 2006, to include 'internet dialler software' irrespective of the call cost or number. To coincide with the extension of the definition of CPRS, icstis issued a further notice of requirement for prior permission for diallers.

additional conditions if applying for remote gambling services
Applicants wishing to offer remote gambling services, should note the following:

 - a 30 spend limit, in any 24 hour period, will be imposed on the certificate
 - evidence of a licence covering the service must be supplied
 - details of age verification, that will be used, must be supplied
 - promotional material must be supplied 

need help?

If you require further information regarding prior permission applications, please email [email protected] or call 020 7940 7474. 

Due to the volume of advice requested, it may take up to ten working days for a written response to be produced by the Executive.

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