What are Waste Transfer Notes?

A waste transfer note (WTN) is a document that details the transfer of waste from one person to another. You must ensure every load of waste you receive or pass to others is covered by a WTN. The only exception is when you receive household waste directly from the householder who produced it, but you will need a WTN when you pass that waste to someone else.

WTNs ensure that there is a clear audit trail from when the waste is produced until it is disposed of. You must keep copies of all your WTNs for at least two years and must be able to produce them on demand to your environmental regulator or local council, or you could be fined.

You must check that anyone you pass your waste to holds the relevant registration, permit or exemption for the type of waste you pass to them. See the page in this guideline on who can deal with your waste?

There is no standard WTN and many waste carriers produce their own versions. The example from SEPA can be filled in online, or can be printed out and filled in by hand.

What a Waste Transfer Note should contain

A WTN must be completed and signed by both the person handing over the waste and the person receiving it. It must contain enough information about the waste for it to be handled safely and either recovered or disposed of legally. If you do not give enough information and your waste is mismanaged as a result, you could be prosecuted.

The WTN must include:

  • a description of the waste
  • any processes the waste has been through
  • how the waste is contained or packaged
  • the quantity of the waste
  • the place and date of transfer
  • the name and address of both parties
  • details of the permit, licence or exemption of the person receiving the waste
  • the licence or registration number of the person handing over the waste, if they have a waste management licence or are a registered carrier of controlled waste 
  • the appropriate European Waste Catalogue (EWC) code for your waste
  • the Standard Industry Code (SIC) of your business

In Northern Ireland you will also have to include a statement that you have applied the waste hierarchy.

Find your waste codes

You can find the SIC code that applies to your business on the Companies House website.

Companies House: Guide to SIC codes

EWC codes, also known as list of wastes codes, classify waste materials by what they are and how they are produced.

You should never rely on waste carriers or waste management contractors to describe your waste for you. As the producer, you are most able to describe your waste accurately. It is not acceptable to use non-specific terms such as 'general waste'.

You need to complete separate paperwork for hazardous/special waste - see our guideline on hazardous/special waste.

Use a Waste Transfer Note season ticket

For repeat transfers you can use a season ticket. This is a single WTN that can cover multiple transfers over a period of up to 12 months. You can agree to use a season ticket if all of the following stay the same:

  • the parties involved in the transfer - the waste producer and the waste carrier or waste disposal business
  • the description of the waste being transferred
  • the place where the waste is transferred from one person to the other

If any of these conditions change, you will need a new WTN.

For more information on checking the journey of waste after it leaves your premises, see our guideline on waste carriers and brokers

Hazardous/special waste

For information on how to use consignment notes for hazardous/special waste see or guidance: Using consignment notes for hazardous special waste

Further information

Return to the menu of the Duty of care - Your waste responsibilities environmental topic