Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority (AALA)

Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority (AALA)

The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) is the body which oversees adventurous activities in the UK. Run by the Health and Safety Executive, AALA contracts out the licensing of venues to the Adventure Activities Licensing Service. Following a consultation process which lasted from 2011 to 2015 the AALA was confirmed as continuing to operate in its current form until further notice by the coalition government in March 2015.

Visit the AALA website HERE

Licenseable Activities

Under the Adventurous Activities Licensing Regulations 2004 there is a list of adventurous activities for which providers and venues must be licensed in order to be able to deliver them commercially. In August 2013 by way of clarification AALA also added a list of activities they specify as not requiring a licence in order to be delivered commercially. This was because it was felt that not every activity that appeared licensable on first sight was actually licensable and vice versa.

 Licensable activities include the following:

 Activities not requiring a licence include the following:

 Climbing (on natural outdoor features)


 Rock climbing

 Climbing walls

 Ice climbing

 Zip wires

 Abseiling (incl. on buildings & disused railway viaducts

 Tyrolean traverse


 Tree scrambling

 Via Ferrata

 Jacob’s ladder

 Gorge/Ghyll scrambling

 Crate climbing


 Abseiling towers

 Sea level traversing

 Scrambling (if no specialist equipment/techniques required)

 Bouldering (specialist equipment/techniques required)

 Bouldering (if no specialist equipment/techniques required) 


 Pool jumping/Tomb stoning/Plunge pooling


 Weasiling (as distinct from caving or bouldering)


 Ropes courses (incl. obstacle/assault courses)



 Trekking (journeying in remote moorland/mountain areas above 600m)


 Gorge walking

 Quad bikes


 Camping (in remote terrain)

 Wave skiing

 Mountain boarding

 Hill walking

 On-road cycling

 Fell running

 On-piste snow sports


 Grass slope skiing

 Pony trekking


 Off-road cycling/Mountain biking


 Off-piste snow sports


 Ski touring


 Improvised sledges


 Ski touring




 Caving and Underground (in natural caves or mines)

 Caving and Underground


 Show caves/tourist mines

 Mine exploration

 Artificial cave systems


 Mines still being worked

 Cave dicing




 Watersports (on most lakes, fast flowing rivers & the sea)


 Open canoeing/kayaking (sea & inland)

 Rowing boats

 Sea level traversing

 MCA registered yachts

 Sit on tops

 Rigid inflatable boats (RIB)

 Stand-up kayaks

 Wake boarding


 Water skiing

 Improvised rafting

 Body boarding

 Kite surfing


 White-water rafting


 Improvised rafting

 Scuba diving

 Paddle surfing

 Open water swimming


 Sand/land yachting



 Dragon boating

 Power boats (and floats towed behind)

 Surf skiing

 Powered/towed inflatable/rafts

 Wave skiing


 Sailing (boats & dinghies)




 River bugs


 Keel boats


 Bell boats




 Stand-up paddleboarding


 Artificial white water courses









 Rifle shooting


 Paint balling


 Survival & Bushcraft


 Team building exercises


 Bridge jumping




 Airborne Activities


 Clay pigeon shooting


 Air rifles


 Problem solving exercises


 Environmental studies


 Bungy jumping


 Go karting


 Adventure games


 BMX biking


Adventurous Activity Licensing Service (AALS)

The Adventure Activities Licensing Service (AALS) came into existence on 1 April 2007. It exists to provide licensing of licenseable activities delivered by venues and providers on behalf of AALA. The AALS is presently operated by TQS Ltd, a not-for-profit company under contract to the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). TQS Ltd was previously the AALA.

If you want to take the children in your care, to an activity centre or provider you can contact the Adventure Activities Licensing Service on 029 2075 5715 or email and they will tell you if the provider is licensed. It is especially important to do so for any of the above activities or any similar ones.


Role of AALS

AALS delivers the licensing regime on a day-to-day basis on behalf of AALA. Some of the ways it does this are:

  • considering applications for licences (including renewals and requests for changes;
  • carrying out inspections, including spot checks, of providers of adventure activities;
  • deciding on applications and issuing licences;
  • revoking or varying licences to secure safety;
  • investigating complaints within its remit;
  • making information about licence holders available to the public;
  • answering general queries about licensing.


AALS inspectors

The AALS has a small, permanent team of senior inspectors who are all highly qualified and experienced outdoor professionals. They have worked in the sector for many years before joining AALS and all still participate actively in adventure activities. Overall the team has detailed knowledge and experience of all licensable activities and many non-licensable ones which are often found at centres. The requirement to be suitably experienced or qualified is set out in the regulations.

The knowledgeable permanent team is supported by freelance inspectors who can be called upon when needed to deal with particular projects or peaks of work. All inspectors are appointed in writing and carry identification. They will show this on request.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.  Why are only caving, climbing, trekking and watersports activities within scope of the regulations? What about, for example, motor sports, rope courses, archery and water skiing?

The licensing regulations encompass a broad range of activities but concentrate on those which are done in the most hazardous environments.  Licensing with compulsory inspection is a very strict form of regulation. The list of activities covered by the regulations was decided on following a review of the accident and incident history in this sector and a desire to regulate the activities with the greatest potential for multiple fatalities or severe injuries.

Q2.  The risks in the voluntary sector or on teacher-led trips may be as great or greater. Why aren't they included?

The licensing scheme arises from the tragedy at Lyme Bay in 1993, which involved a commercial organisation assuming responsibility for children's safety and then discharging it negligently. When children go on trips as part of the normal school curriculum under the continuing guidance of the teacher that is different from handing over responsibility to another party of whom certain skills, knowledge and qualifications are expected.

The Department for Education has produced guidance about school trips. There is also guidance for Scotland and the Outdoor Education Advisor's Panel has produced guidance for England. The Welsh Government has issued this guidance.  

The Adventure Activities Licensing Authority prepares guidance for the Adventure Activities Licensing Service inspector. This can be found by following the links on the left. Although written for the inspectors, the guidance may be useful to provider, schools and members of the public.

Q3.  What are the requirements on schools and teachers then?

Teachers leading their own pupils in adventure activities and assuming responsibility for their safety do not have to be licensed. But the school should however ensure that they are competent in the activity which they are leading. The fact that they do not fall within the scope of the regulations does not exempt them from their existing legal duty of care, as a teacher.

If the activity is organised by the school, the local authority or board of governors will, as employers, be subject to the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. They require employers to assess the risks to teachers and pupils of any of their activities and to have in place measures to ensure that the significant risks are controlled. A part of this is ensuring that employees are sufficiently competent.

Q4.  Why not licence the entire range of activities on offer at a particular centre rather than just certain activities carried out there? Surely this is confusing for the public?

The Licensing Service inspectors have always acted as the eyes and ears of the health and safety enforcing authorities. They are required to bring any issues they become aware of to the attention of the provider and to the appropriate authority, if appropriate. Read The Approach to the Inspection of Providers for more detail about how the AALS inspect.

Q5.  Are there any voluntary schemes?

A non-statutory safety accreditation scheme, Adventuremark, is now established. It is suitable for activity providers who are out of the scope of the regulations but would like an independent accreditation. It is also available for AALA licence holders who would like an accreditation of those activities they offer but which are not in scope of licensing. You can find out more at Adventuremark. This scheme is voluntary but providers who are in scope of the regulations do still require a licence.

Adventuremark also feeds into the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, which is suitable for those providers looking for accreditation to recognise both quality and safety. The LOtC Quality Badge covers all types of learning outside the classroom, from farms to historic buildings, and adventurous activities to expeditions overseas

There are other non-statutory inspection and accreditation schemes such as those offered by Tourist Boards and the various National Governing Bodies of Sport.

Q6.  Do the regulations apply to centres overseas which are operated by British companies?

No, statutory regulations cannot apply outside of Great Britain for legal reasons. The legislation does not apply outside the boundaries of Great Britain and no remit exists for inspecting providers of adventure activities operating in Northern Ireland, Crown Territories, Crown Dependencies or foreign countries. Providers outside GB may find the Adventuremark scheme of interest.

Q7.  Do non-GB providers need a licence to offer activities in GB?

Yes - if they are providing activities in scope of the regulations then they require a licence.

Q8.  What is the law about minibuses, drivers and trailers?

This is a complex area involving both road traffic law and insurance. AALA and AALS inspectors are not competent to advise on this subject.  Activity providers who are part of a local authority should contact their transport department for information. Other providers should contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency or the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency as appropriate.

Q9.  Do the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations require providers to do criminal records checks?

No - there is nothing in these regulations that requires providers to do criminal records checks. However there are other legal duties on those working with children and vulnerable adults. Further information can be obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service, or in Scotland, Disclosure Scotland.



Queries or complaints about individual licence holders should be made direct to the Licensing Service (details above). They will investigate complaints. If the matter is beyond their remit or ability to investigate, they will pass it on to the appropriate enforcing authority and will let you know that they have done so.


Incidents at Accredited Centres

The AALS keeps track of all reported incidents which occur at licenced adventurous activity venues.

information about incidents, accidents and near misses that have happened will be of use to anyone who is interested in adventurous activities, as a provider, user, enthusiast, organiser etc. This information is updated from time to time with safety developments and recommendations from within the outdoor community. Often an entry results from specific incidents and the intention of AALA is to look at the outcomes and implications of these and not at the incidents themselves.

The entries have been compiled by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority.

Venues with this Accreditation

Blue Mountain Activities is an innovative outdoor activity provider.

We are a family friendly club and welcome all sailors and potential sailors. If you're interested in learning to sail, family cruising or a keen racer you will be very welcome.


FSC Kindrogan is set in wooded grounds on the banks of the River Ardle, and is a gateway to the picturesque Scottish Highlands. It lies within easy reach of some of the remotest areas of the UK with inspiring landforms and rich range of wildlife habitats but is just one and a half hours travel from Glasgow or Edinburgh.


FSC Rhyd-y-creuau provides high quality residential outdoor learning and fieldwork for primary schools, secondary schools and university groups. We also have a range of courses and holidays for adults and families.

The Blencathra Centre occupies a dramatic setting at 300m on a south facing slope of Blencathra in The Lake District National Park and offers an unparalleled panorama across the Keswick, Helvellyn and Skiddaw areas.

If you are looking for somewhere that is more like a home from home, with outdoor education programmes that are crafted with care, delivered by quality people, driven by our values of Education, Inspiration and Play, then Allnatt Centres are for you.

Condover Hall is a prestigious Elizabethan residential activity centre, hosting teambuilding and non-stop educational activity ideal for school children, sports groups, summer camps and corporate team building events and conferences alike.

The Scaladale Centre is an outdoor adventure residential centre, situated in Ardvourlie on the Isle of Harris in the beautiful Western Isles and is run by Lewis and Harris Youth Clubs Association. 

The museum is closed for redevelopment.

Antur Ltd is set at the heart of Wales' adventurous wilderness. We believe anywhere outdoors has an adventure to offer and more importantly FUN!

Headquarters of the Argyll and Bute Council Museums Service

Wickedly Wonderful is a summer camp in the UK for children, it regularly receives top reviews in the national press, The Sunday Times and Daily Telegraph.

We offer residential summer camps during the summer and Easter holidays and skiing trips during the February half term holiday for children aged 6 to 13 years. 

Whitemoor Lakes occupies a 25 acre grassland site at the end of a shallow 40 acre lake with space for football, volleyball and full-on adrenaline adventure activities.

We strive to encourage, involve and empower young people through a democratic and decision-making process, which will enable them to become active citizens in their community and an overall global society. The youth service also provides a range of innovative and diverse opportunities that address the identified needs of all young people

Come and visit the North East’s fantastic White Water Rafting Centre today. After a £4.6 million re-development our world class course is ready and waiting for adrenaline hunters and thrill seekers looking to hit the water. With a wide range of exciting features for you to enjoy, prepare for an unforgettable day of White Water Rafting!

We aim to help young people realise their potential through learning in the wild. We create a supportive and challenging environment in which young people can learn about themselves and see clearly, perhaps for the first time, what they might truly be capable of achieving in life.

Visiting the countryside and experiencing outdoor education is a crucial element of a child’s development and adventure learning is a great catalyst for this.

Our Adventure Learning courses and activities provide stimulating, challenging, fun experiences, helping children to feel good and learn better.

SOEC is a Scottish charity working to provide high quality learning opportunities for children, young people and the community at large all at affordable prices. We provide exciting and intelligent experiential and outdoor learning for thousands of children and young people each year at our 3 Centres across Scotland.

Leicestershire is in the east midlands region of England and the County Council covers seven district council areas. The main centres of population in the county are market towns, but the population is split between a few small urban areas, extensive suburban areas and a range of rural settlements.

Haven holidays are Britain's largest provider of domestic holidays with family holiday parks around the UK all offering a full programme of activities, kids' clubs and entertainment at no extra cost to holidaymakers. With comfortable accommodation and a great range of leisure activities our holiday parks are the perfect escape! And we've kept our 2014 UK holidays as affordable as ever.

Dany Duncan set up ElementalUK in 2006 to enable people to get closer to the elements – whether by immersing themselves in the thrills and spills of the Cornish coast or hitting natural highs in the mountains of France. 


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