RCWS Code of Practice

At the heart of the scheme is the RCWS Code of Practice (the Code) developed in partnership with Government agencies and through consultation with the industry. The Code comprises of five sections:

  • Consent to Trade and Trading Standards
  • Financial Transparency and Corporate Governance
  • Providing Safe and Hygienic Working Conditions
  • Protecting the Environment
  • Compliant and Ethical Employment Practices

RCWS Accreditation requires the operator to meet and abide by the Code in full.

Details of each part of the code can be found by scrolling down the menu bar or by highlighting the appropriate graphic on the right-hand side of the page. Hyperlinks embedded in the text will take you to further information.

Applying for RCWS Accreditation


RCWS accreditation requires operators to complete an online application and to support this with documented evidence.  Hand car washes are subject to an on-site audit. Automated and jet wash sites will be subject to random audits.

Evidence requirements

It is advisable to collect all documented evidence supporting your application before you start your online application. This will enable you to complete your application much quicker. However, you will be able to save and return to your application as many times as needed before submitting.

A list of the documented evidence required is outlined below:

  • A photo of your site showing your trading name
  • A copy of your public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance certificate.
  • If you move customers’ vehicles then you will also need to provide a copy of your motor insurance certificate.
  • A sample copy of the employment contract you provide to workers
  • A sample copy of a recent pay slip and/or invoice for self-employed staff
  • A photo of a health and safety poster displayed at your site or a copy of a health and safety leaflet that you provide to workers at the site.

Evidence can be suppled in PDF (for documents) or JPEG format (for images) and uploaded into the relevant box providing it is clear and all text can be seen.

Conditions of Membership

Once an Operator has joined the Scheme and become an accredited car-wash, the membership will proceed on a continuous basis. To this end, the following will apply to the Operator:

  • Comply with all clauses of the Code at all times
  • Allow the Scheme Administrator to audit the car-wash sites at any time, in order to ensure continued compliance with the Code
  • Scheme branding shall be displayed in a prominent position in order to identify that the car wash has accredited status
  • Apply to renew scheme membership on an annual basis
Is My Car Wash Covered by the Scheme?

The RCWS covers all forms of car wash; fully and semi-automatic, self-service and hand car wash. The presence of workers and their role in the car wash/valeting process will determine the RCWS category.

  • Category 1: Sites where workers are physically engaged in car wash/valeting activities.
  • Category 2: Sites which are either fully automated or self-service.

Note: If workers are only engaged in taking payment or maintenance of the site, the site will be classified as category 2.

If you operate multiple sites, and achieve accreditation, you may be eligible to apply for RCWS Earned Recognition Accreditation for all of your sites at a reduced fee. For more information, please get in touch with admin@rcws.org.uk.


The scheme is a not-for-profit organisation, financed solely from site registrations and contributions from RCWS supporters.  The accreditation fee is designed to cover the operational and development costs of the scheme and covers:

  • Site audits and reports
  • RCWS promotional material for accredited sites
  • Consumer awareness activities
  • Future development of the scheme

Accreditation fees are determined by the site category and audit requirements.

Category 1 Sites
£250 per site
Category 2 Sites
£50 per site

Having completed your online application, the system will generate a RCWS registration number unique to your site.  This will be your point of reference for all dealings with the scheme. You will then be invited to pay the appropriate fee to support your application.

What happens next?

Having checked your application to confirm it is complete and the evidence supplied sufficient, your application will be processed.

If you operate a hand car wash your site will be subject to an on-site audit.  We aim to do this within 30 working days of receipt of your application. Audits are unannounced, with the auditor making contact with the site operator immediately prior to the audit.

RCWS Audit

In joining the scheme, the Responsible Car Wash Operator agrees to being audited by the scheme administrator/ GLAA. Sites with workers will automatically be subject to an audit. Automated and jet wash sites will be subject to random audits.

The audit is designed to check compliance with the code, in particular those areas difficult to evidence by self-certification. The scheme’s audit regime, including when an audit is undertaken, is determined by the scheme administrator. The scheme administrator will share information obtained through the audit with regulators and government departments to develop a detailed profile of the industry. Information will be anonymised, with only the scheme administrator having site specific information. In line with the ethos of the scheme, operators will be given advice and guidance on best practice to drive up standards through continuous improvement.  Any areas of non-compliance with the Code will be outlined for the operator and advice offered on how to bring about the required improvement within an agreed time frame.