IRSE - Institution of Railway Signal Engineers > Licensing > How to apply for an IRSE licence
  1. Licensing
  2. Membership & Registration
  3. Qualifications & CPD
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News
  7. About
  1. Licensing
  2. Membership & Registration
  3. Qualifications & CPD
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News
  7. About

How to apply for an IRSE licence

To obtain an IRSE licence, you will be assessed to check that you have the relevant skills and knowledge, and that you are competent and safe to carry out licensable work.

Preparing for assessment

Step 1: Choose a licence category that fits the work you have been doing or are being trained to do.

Step 2: Read through the licence's competence assessment checklist (CAC) to see which criteria you can already show that you meet, and which you may need additional training or experience for.

Step 3: Prepare your logbook. Make sure it contains evidence of your work experience, training, mentoring and qualifications, as it will be used during your assessments. You may find most of the evidence you need is included on your CV or in your workplace personnel record. If you don’t have a logbook, you can order a logbook folder from IRSE.

Step 4: Find an assessing agency.: If your employer is an approved IRSE assessing agency, they can do your assessments for you. If not, you will need to choose an agency that assesses the licence category you wish to apply for from our list of approved assessing agencies. The assessing agency may charge for their services and will tell you how much your assessment will cost before you start.

Step 5: Complete the personal statement on the CAC. Make sure this is done on each page showing how you meet the criteria. You should: 

  • Give examples of work you have done. 
  • Explain when and where the work took place, e.g. “In June 2017 I was repairing a junction box at Reading”. 
  • Write about practice not theory – what you did, not what you would do. For example “Following the wiring diagram, I securely attached the wires using a crimping tool”.
  • Include evidence to support your statement – for example photographs of work you’ve done, work plans you’ve written, or designs you’ve produced. 

If you have questions about the criteria, the technical mentor at your assessing agency will be able to help.

The assessment process

Workplace assessment: Your assessing agency will arrange a workplace assessment. An assessor will come and watch you carrying out licensable work, either in your normal place of work or in a simulation or training school. They will ask you questions about what you are doing, and what you might do in different situations, for example: “What other types of wiring terminations might you use on this type of cable?”  They will write up their assessment against each criteria on the CAC, and complete an overall statement. 

Competence assessment: Your assessing agency will arrange a competence assessment. An assessor will meet with you to discuss your logbook and the workplace assessment.

They will ask questions about:

  • the evidence (for example: “Tell me more about your responsibilities on this job.”)
  • your understanding of your work
  • the underpinning knowledge

They will write up their assessment against the criteria on the CAC, and complete an overall statement.

Submitting your application

Complete the application form. The assessing agency will send it to IRSE Licensing together with the completed CAC, the relevant logbook pages, and any additional supporting evidence. You will find a list of what’s required on the application form, and your assessing agency will help you put this together.

Your application will be checked and logged – IRSE will let the assessing agency know if there are any problems like missing documents. One of IRSE’s authorisers will review the application and make a decision on whether to award the licence. If your application is successful your card will be sent to you via your assessing agency. This whole process can take up to 15 working days from the application being received by the IRSE, so please be patient. If you have any concerns about the length of time your licence is being processed, please contact your assessing agent first.

What happens next?

Congratulations, you’re now an IRSE licence holder! Your licence is valid for ten years from the date shown on the card. However, you must have a surveillance assessment by a competence assessor after five years, to make sure that you have been keeping your skills and knowledge up to date. If you don’t do this your licence will lapse and you may not be able to do licensable work until you have been assessed again.


If a complaint is made against you, IRSE can endorse (make a publicly available record of the complaint) or revoke (take away) your licence. Complaints may be made against you if someone believes you:

  • are not competent in your work
  • have breached the Obligations of Licence Holders
  • have knowingly done something wrong.

Find out more about complaints. 

Support for applicants

During the assessment process, you can get help from your employer or your assessing agency.

If you have questions about the licensing scheme, you can contact IRSE Licensing by emailing or calling the IRSE Licensing team on +44 (0)20 7808 1191.