Application Information


Do you want to prove your social enterprise credibility?

SE_BRAND_APPROVED_RGBTo stand out from the crowd, and prove your social enterprise is creating social value, you should apply for Social Enterprise Mark accreditation.

To qualify, you must meet the Social Enterprise Mark qualification criteria, which is summarised below.

Below you can review the criteria, necessary documentation and the annual licence fees for the Social Enterprise Mark.

Or does your organisation want to be the best at what it does, striving to achieve social enterprise excellence?

SEM_APPROVED_LOGO_RGB_PORTRAIT_AWIf your organisation is seeking enhanced accreditation, showing best practice in proof points across the following areas, then you should apply for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark.  

  • governance
  • business ethics
  • financial transparency


Qualification Criteria

To qualify for the Social Enterprise Mark, you must meet the following criteria:

Must have social and/or environmental objectives

Social and environmental purpose will need to be clearly articulated within the constitutional documents of the organisation, e.g. Articles of Association


Must be an independent business

Applicants will need to confirm that no other public or Government agency, or other private corporate bodies hold decision making control of the organisation.


Must earn at least 50% of income from trading

Applicants will need to prove that at least 50% of income comes from trading. Trading income is defined as income from sales, fees, contracts, service level agreements but NOT pure grant awards, investment income, donations and loans. This information can be found in company annual accounts.


A principal proportion (at least 51%) of any profit made by the business must be dedicated to social/environmental purposes

The organisation’s constitution should confirm that it is trading in support of a clear social and/or environmental purpose and that a principle proportion (51% or more) of any profit made* by the business is dedicated to such purposes.

*Please note it is not mandatory that your organisation makes a profit, but at least 51% of any profit made will need to be dedicated to social/environmental purposes.

Must distribute residual assets for social or environmental aims, if organisation is dissolved

Constitutional documents must state a commitment that, in the event of dissolution, residual assets will be distributed to achieve social/environmental objectives


Must demonstrate that social/ environmental objectives are being achieved

Applicants must commit to a statement that as a Mark Holder they would strive to maximise social impacts and minimise environmental damage. Applicants must also be able to provide three ‘social impact statements’ that provide an illustration of what they are doing to create a social impact.


Fee Schedule

Please note the licence fee is only payable once your application has been approved

Fee tier Annual income Fee (+ VAT)
1 less than £150,000 £350*
2 £150,000 – £499,000 £450*
3 £500,000 – £999,999 £550*
4 £1,000,000 – £2,999,999 £690*
5 £3,000,000 – £5,999,999 £760
6 £6,000,000 – £9,999,999 £1,500
7 £10,000,000 – £14,999,999 £2,200
8 £15,000,000 – £29,999,999 £3,300
9 £30,000,000 – £49,999,999 £5,000
10 £50,000,000 – £99,999,999 £6,000
11 £100,000,000 and above £7,500

These fees are valid from 1st April 2017.The fee tier will be assessed each year at the point of renewal, so if turnover has increased or decreased, the licence fee payable will adjust accordingly.

*Please note – applicants in fee tiers 1-4 will be charged via quarterly standing order payments. It is the applicants’ responsibility to set up the standing order for payments, please contact us with any questions about this.


Next Steps



If you would like help to meet the criteria, for example changing your constitution, please ring the helpline on 0345 504 6536.

If your business has been operating for less than 1 year, please contact us for advice on achieving the Social Enterprise Mark.

Group Applications

Part of a group of companies?

Bis Issue GroupIf you’re the parent company or a subsidiary of a parent company, you could apply for the Social Enterprise Mark for the whole group at the same time. Why not all benefit from the status of being an accredited social enterprise and demonstrate that your entire company operates to the same ethos of ‘Trading for People and Planet’.

For example, The Big Issue Group, comprising The Big Issue, Big Issue Invest, Big Issue Cymru and Big Issue Scotland, holds a group licence for the Social Enterprise Mark.

By submitting a group application, it is likely that you will benefit from a considerably reduced licence fee. For group applicants, the group’s combined turnover will formulate what their Social Enterprise Mark license fee will be, instead of each individual company applying for the Mark separately with separate tiered fees.

To find out more about submitting a group application, please get in touch with Rachel on 07790908829 or rachelb@socialenterprisemark.org.uk and she will answer your questions and could start your application for you today!


Criteria Checklist

Below is our Mark Holder checklist to make sure you can meet the qualification criteria. Please answer the following questions to see if you are eligible to become a Mark Holder.

Do you have access to the most recent company accounts and governing documents (your company constitution i.e. articles of association) for your organisation?

You will need to answer questions referring to relevant details from these documents, therefore it is important that you have access to the information they contain.


Is your organisation independent, with its own constitution and governance?

You will need to confirm that no other public or Government agency, or other private corporate bodies hold decision making control of the organisation.


Does your organisation earn at least 50% of income from trading?

You will need to prove that at least 50% of your income comes from trading. Trading income is defined as income from sales, fees, contracts, service level agreements but NOT pure grant awards, investment income, donations and loans. This information can be found in your company annual accounts.


Has your organisation been operating for at least 1 year?

If your organisation has been operating for less than a year, you will need to provide evidence that the organisation has started trading, e.g. business bank statement, VAT return, contracts in place. You will also need to pledge to earn at least 50% of income from trading within 18 months of achieving the Mark.


Does your organisation have social and/or environmental aims, and are you committed to investing at least 51% of any annual profits in such purposes, as well as any residual assets should the business dissolve?

Your constitution should ideally define your social objectives, but at the very least confirm that you are trading in support of a clear social and/or environmental purpose, and that a principal proportion (51% or more) of any profit made* by the business is dedicated to such purposes, as well as any remaining assets, if your organisation was to close.

*Please note it is not mandatory that your organisation makes a profit, but at least 50% of any profit made will need to be dedicated to social/environmental purposes.

Can you demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved?

You must be able to provide three ‘social impact statements’ that provide an illustration of what you are doing to create a social impact.


Ready to apply?

If you are still unsure about whether to apply, please review the key benefits for your organisation.

How the application process works:

  1. Please start the application by completing the registration form – you will then be directed to the main application form
  2. After your application is submitted, we will start the assessment process to check you meet the criteria
  3. If your application meets the criteria, you will be given provisional approval, at which point you will be invoiced for the annual licence fee
  4. Once the invoice is paid, you will be granted full approval and sent a Welcome Pack within 2 weeks of approval
  5. You will be able to use the Social Enterprise Mark logo immediately to promote your status as an accredited social enterprise