Types of supplier

There are a number of options available to become a supplier in the water sector in England and Wales.

Water supply license – discontinued from April 2017

Water supply licensees are licensed by Ofwat to supply large users with water. We make sure that WSL holders have the financial, technical and managerial resources they need to hold a licence. Once a company has a WSL it can negotiate with customers under commercial terms.

Please note that from April 2017, WSLs were discontinued and replaced with the Water Supply and Sewerage licence. WSLs needed to apply for a WSSL to continue to serve customers.

Water supply and sewerage licence – effective from April 2017

Companies with a water supply and sewerage licence (WSSL) are licenced by Ofwat to supply eligible business, charity and public sector customers with water and wastewater services. As part of the WSSL application process we make sure that companies have the financial, technical and managerial resources to supply services.

WSSL licensees will be published on the Ofwat website as they are granted.

Self-supply licence

Self-supply licensees are eligible business customers that have a licence from us to supply themselves 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 self-supply services.

New appointments

New appointees can supply developers or large users with water or sewerage services or both. New appointments are licensed by us to serve a specific geographic area. Developers or large users can ask any company to be their supplier. But you have to apply to Ofwat for an appointment to serve their site. If you apply to us for an appointment we will make sure that you have the resources to provide water, sewerage or water and sewerage services. We also make sure that the end customers will be no worse off than they would have been under the local monopoly supplier.

Businesses we do not regulate

Ofwat does not licence or regulate:

  • private water supplies; or
  • third party intermediaries, such as billing agents, brokers and switching websites.
  • If you own a private water supply, you can find out more information at www.privatewatersupplies.gov.uk.

If you are a third party intermediary (TPI) – such as a consultant, broker or switching website – read our TPI briefing sheet on operating in the WSSL business retail market.