Do you need to be registered to work as an electrician in the UK?

I have been asked many times over the years; do Electricians need to be NICEIC registered?

The short answer is no, there is no requirement to be registered with the NICEIC. In fact, there is no requirement to be registered anywhere to work as an electrician in the UK.

Anybody can legally work on electrics regardless of qualifications or experience.

However, working on electrics other than your own home that you live in (not including property that you rent out), falls under the  statutory legislation – the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. It is a free government produced document and can be downloaded from the website.

Any electrical works other than in your own home, come under the scope of the EAWR.

The EAWR doesn’t state that you need to be registered anywhere other than to comply with the EAWR which is statutory meaning you MUST adhere to the document.

Electrical companies whether they are limited companies or sole traders can be registered with a competent person scheme. There are various competent person schemes such as the NICEIC, Napit, Elecsa and Stroma who inspect your work and procedures and approve your accreditation under their scheme if you meet their criteria. The competent person schemes are very similar, but some operate in different ways. The schemes have their own ways on how you can certificate works. You do not need to be registered with one of the schemes and do not have to produce certification through any of them. You can be accredited by a scheme and produce certification however you like. It is entirely optional to choose to be registered with one of the schemes. The list of companies registered with a competent person scheme is publicly available via their own website.

Individual electricians can become an ECS gold card holder if you have a JIB or SJIB (if in Scotland) recognised UK competency based qualification (electrotechnical Level 3 NVQ or a formal UK electrotechnical apprenticeship) plus a formal BS7671 qualification in the current edition of the wiring regulations in force when your application is made. Individuals are not assessed on site on competence once obtaining the card but when the card expires, are required to carry out an ECS health and safety multiple choice examination, which in my opinion is very easy. ECS have recently announced that to renew the card, the individual requires to have completed the course on the current version of the wiring regulations BS7671. The register of gold card holders isn’t public so the public cannot check online whether the holder is actually registered. This card is for individuals, not companies.

Electricians can become an ECS registered electrician if you have an NVQ Level 3 and competed the current update course of the British wiring regulations BS7671. The register of ECS registered electricians isn’t public so the public cannot check online whether the holder is actually registered. This card is for individuals, not companies.

Companies can become JIB registered which is a membership with the JIB designed to help companies with employment including employment terms and conditions, employment benefits such as healthcare, and financial support for training. Companies who have JIB membership are required to abide by the JIB National Working Rules which includes minimum rates of pay and requirement for operatives to hold valid ECS cards such as the above cards mentioned.

Companies can become members of the ECA if they meet their criteria. The ECA provides business and industry support with technical, Health and Safety, networking and resources.

Individual electricians, companies or main contractors can become Sparksafe registered. Sparksafe operate a licence to practice. It is client led who choose to have workers on their electrical projects to be Sparksafe registered. Every worker is assessed by Sparksafe for competency. Electrical workers can have one of three licences; QE – qualified electrician, REW – restricted electrical worker or AE – apprentice electrician.

Electrical companies whether limited companies or sole traders can become an electrical registered competent person which is an agreement and register between all competent person schemes mentioned earlier (NICEIC, Elecsa, Napit and Stroma). Even though the title of the register is electrical registered competent person, it isn’t a register for individual electricians unless they are sole traders. It is basically a list of all companies registered with any of the mentioned competent person schemes. It doesn’t list all the individual electricians who have ECS gold or ECS registered electrician’s cards or Sparksafe licence holders. In fact, it isn’t a register of competent persons at all. Perhaps very misleading for the general public.

It is all very confusing and more so for the consumer or client to ascertain who to engage as a contractor or who to assess as ‘competent’.

Electrical certification isn’t required to be registered anywhere or with any scheme either. Certification is very important because it is a document that demonstrates that the electrics are safe for use. Certificates produced are typically given to the client and a copy retained by the contractor.

What is required under Part P of the building regulations in England and Wales is that various works in domestic premises are to be registered with the local building control. This can be done through one of the competent person schemes as they have easy access portals to building control, but you can also contact the local building control directly. Registering the required work requires a record of the address, type of work, the installer and certificate serial number.

Anybody can carry out domestic work and they do not have to be registered with anybody or any of the competent person schemes.

Some believe Part P is a qualification or accreditation. You might hear a tag line from an electrician saying; “I am Part P registered” or “I have taken my Part P”. Part P is a document – Approved Document P: electrical safety dwellings and explains what type of work is required to be notified in dwellings (domestic properties). Document P states: “The persons responsible for compliance with Part P are the people responsible for building work (for example, the agent, designer, builder or installer). The building owner may also be responsible for ensuring that work complies to the relevant building regulations”.

There are some very good electricians operating without any registration or accreditation but without any third-party checks, the client or home owner ordering the work is risking hiring somebody who is not a competent person. It certainly doesn’t mean the individual or company isn’t competent. Hiring someone via a competent scheme or an electrician who has an ECS card also does not guarantee competence. Confusing hey?

The EAWR regulations which covers any electrical work other than DIY work in your own home, places a duty on the person ordering the work with the exception of a consumer.

If you are an electrician or owner of an electrical contracting company, you may be thinking “why would I become registered with any scheme or organisation if I don’t need to? Or which electrical scheme shall I register with, what’s the benefit?”

The incentive for registering with a scheme or gaining accreditation is usually because the client may have their own requirements whom they contract to carry out electrical works.

For example, many letting agents and clients would often require contractors to have NICEIC accreditation. Companies carrying out large construction works often require operatives, whether as PAYE, contract or self-employed, to hold ECS cards.

Some schemes also provide benefits to their members or accredited contractors such as technical assistance, some provide legal advice, some provide employment assistance.

To conclude, legally, you do not need to be registered as an electrician to carry out electrical works in the UK. There is no single register of ‘electricians’.

If you are an electrician and want to know if you need to be registered, the answer remains the same; no. Individuals do not need to be registered and companies do not need to be registered. Although, depending on what type of work you carry out, what sector and industry you work in and client requirement, you should consider registering to the relevant body or scheme otherwise you may not meet their requirement and therefore restrict yourself to whom you can work for. Each scheme or membership has its benefits for the individuals or company, and it is simply optional. I like to describe it as ‘a commercial decision’ to choose to whom you become accredited by or join membership with.

Written by Dan Jackson AKA Dans the Engineer in Delhi, India.

WhatsApp WhatsApp Dan!