1.2 million eligible business, charity and public sector customers in England can now choose their water and wastewater retailer – joining over 130,000 business customers in Scotland that are already able to switch.
These retailers hold a water supply and sewerage licence (WSSL) granted by Ofwat. Here is a full list of WSSL holders.
Water supply and sewerage licensees have a licence from us to supply eligible business, charity and public sector customers mainly in England with retail services. As part of the licence application process we make sure that you have the financial, technical and managerial resources you need to supply services.
About water supply and sewerage licences
A WSSL allows you to use an appointed water company’s supply system to supply water and provide wastewater removal services to eligible customers.
Types of licence
Prospective licensees can apply for the following WSSL:
- Retail authorisation (water): This is a water supply licence that authorises the holder to use the supply system of an appointed water company whose area is wholly or mainly in England to supply the eligible premises of its customers, persons associated with the licensee, or the licensee itself.
- Restricted retail authorisation: This is a water supply licence that authorises the holder to use the supply system of an appointed water company whose area is wholly or mainly in Wales to supply the eligible premises of its customers only.
- Retail authorisation (sewerage): This is a sewerage licence that authorises the holder to use the sewerage system of an appointed sewerage company whose area is wholly or mainly in England for the purpose of enabling the licensee to provide sewerage services in respect of the eligible premises of its customers, persons associated with the licensee, or the licensee itself.
- Wholesale authorisation: This authorises the holder to introduce water into the public water networks of water undertakers whose areas are wholly or mainly in England in order to supply the licensee’s own customers if their non-household premises consume at least 5 megalitres of water a year.
- Supplementary authorisation: This licence authorises the holder to introduce water into the public water networks of water undertakers whose areas are wholly or mainly in Wales in order to supply the licensee’s own customers if their non-household premises consume at least 50 megalitres of water a year.
- Retail restricted to self-supply (water and/or sewerage) authorisation: This is a licence that authorises the holder to supply their own sites and those of persons associated with them, but would not allow them to become a retailer for any other sites. Find more information of how to apply for a self-supply licence here.
Standard licence conditions
The standard conditions for water supply and sewerage licences were determined on 17 March 2016 by the Secretary of State, under sections 17H(1) and 17HA(1) of the Water Industry Act 1991.
We have a legal duty to monitor licensed suppliers’ compliance with their legal duties and licence conditions. Our monitoring activities will be proportionate, accountable, consistent, transparent and targeted only at cases in which action is needed.
How to become a WSSL holder
Anyone can apply for a WSSL with a retail or restricted retail authorisation, as long as they can expressly demonstrate that they meet the requirements as explained in our guidance.
All retailers who wish to participate in the retail market for business customers must hold a water supply and sewerage licence(s) (WSSL) with a retail authorisation.
The WSSL licence fee is £5,250 per application.
The application fee reflects the costs incurred by Ofwat to undertake the necessary assessments and run the associated public consultation.
IN 20/05 – Clarification to our Water Supply and Sewerage Licence (WSSL) application guidance (June 2020)
We aim to complete our detailed assessment of an application within 45 working days of confirming receipt of a complete application (this includes the public consultation referred to above).
Water supply and sewerage licence application process.
|Applicant can review and download an application for a WSSL on Ofwat’s website||Applicant’s discretion|
|Submit application and pay application fee||Applicant’s discretion|
|Ofwat decides whether a complete application has been made||Within five working days|
|Ofwat notifies applicant that application is complete|
|Applicant contacts Market Operator to complete Market Entry Accession Certification|
|Ofwat publishes notice on its website that application has been received. The notice is published for 20 working days.||Depending on type of licence requested, application sent to DWI (water) and/or (EA/NRW (wastewater) for assessment||The notice is published for 20 working days|
|Ofwat consider responses received to its publication of the notice|
|Detailed assessment||40 working days from detailed assessment to grant a licence, subject to confirmation from the Market Operator and situations where we may suspend the application process. Where we propose to refuse an application, the process may exceed the 40 working days target|
|Either accept or refuse application|
|Applicant may submit representations to Ofwat (10 working days)|
|Ofwat considers representations|
|Either accept or refuse application|
Application form and guidance
To apply for a WSSL, please refer to our application guidance in the first instance. You can then download an application form and return to us once completed.
We will keep a public register of WSSLs and publish the licences on the website, as we do for our current licences.
Market entry accession certification
Ofwat is unable to grant a licence until the Market Operator confirms that an applicant has passed Market Entry Accession Certification (MEAC).
Applicants can also make a joint application for a licence in England and/or Wales and Scotland.
Applicants must complete the application form and submit this and the required applications to Ofwat. We will then process your application for a licence in England and/or Wales, and send on your application to the Water Industry Commission Scotland (WICS).
Similarly, applicants may make a joint application to the WICS who will send this to Ofwat.
Further information can be found in the explanatory guidance by Ofwat and WICS
Other parties involved in the process
In addition to Ofwat and the Market Operator there are three other parties involved in granting the WSSL licences: