Retailer responsibilities

Since 1 April 2008 businesses who obtain a water and/or sewerage licence from WICS can become a licensed provider (retailer) for non-household customers in Scotland.

Retailers are responsible for performing the retail functions for which they are licensed. The retail functions are limited to customer facing activities such as:

  • meter reading,
  • billing arrangements,
  • payment collection,
  • customer enquiries and complaints
  • bad debt management.

Retailers must comply with their licence and all relevant market codes.

Licence requirements

All retailers are required to comply with the terms and conditions included in their licences for water and/or sewerage services and with any associated direction.

Read our standard licence conditions

All retailers are required to inform WICS of any change of control or any material change in circumstances as soon as practicable, for example, as a result of acquisitions or changes in their trading name.

Retailers who intend to transfer their licence to another entity may apply to WICS for a licence transfer.

Engaging in the market

WICS encourages all retailers to embrace to work collaboratively with their customers and industry stakeholders to improve the market framework and ensure it deliver benefits to customers. This includes participating in relevant industry working groups and responding to consultations on the market framework.

Find out more about how we are improving the market framework and how to have your say. 

Browse market consultations 

Customer protection

Default tariffs and service levels

All retailers are required to offer a default range and quality of retail services at regulated default tariffs. Default standards act as a safety net to ensure that all customers, regardless of their location, receive an appropriate minimum level of service.

Retailers, therefore, compete in the market either by offering a lower price than the default tariff and/or by offering additional or more tailored retail services to their customers.


Retailers are required to follow the disconnections document issued by WICS. This code sets out measures to protect non-household customers by ensuring they are given due notice of any intention to disconnect water supplies to the premises or discontinue trade effluent service at the premises, and given the opportunity for alternative means of payment and actions to be agreed with the retailer.

Wholesale charges

Retailers are required to pay wholesale charges to Scottish Water in line with the Wholesale Charges Scheme approved by WICS.

Wholesale charges are set in line with Scottish Government’s Principles of Charging for the water and sewerage industry.

Find more on Scottish Water’s Wholesale Charges Scheme

Wholesale Services Agreement

The wholesale services agreement is a legally enforceable contract between Scottish Water and retailers. The agreement sets out the water or sewerage services that Scottish Water agrees to provide to retailers, and the commercial terms on which those services are provided. It also covers the payment terms for the wholesale charges.

Each retailer is required to negotiate a wholesale services agreement with Scottish Water. WICS has developed a standard template wholesale services agreement.

Read our template wholesale services agreement.

Market Code

The Market Code sets out the duties of market participants, details how the Central Market Agency was established and is governed, and provides a series of technical specifications (Code Subsidiary Documents) for the way the Central Market Agency calculates wholesale charges. All market participants must sign up to the Market Code.

The Central Market Agency is the custodian of the Market Code. You can find it on the CMA’s website: Market Code - CMA Scotland

Retailers work together to monitor and review the market codes periodically through Technical Panel meetings chaired by the CMA. This allows to make improvements to the market codes and ensures that the market framework is as effective as possible.

Operational Code

All retailers are required to comply with the Operational Code. This governs the way in which Scottish Water provides its wholesale services to retailers (such as new connections, metering and trade effluent).

Scottish Water is the custodian of the Operational Code. You can find it on Scottish Water’s website: Wholesale Market and Charging - Scottish Water


WICS supports collaborative initiatives between retailers and Scottish Water that can reduce the overall water and sewerage systems costs to the benefit of all customers and the environment.

To this end, WICS introduced a process that allows Scottish Water and retailers to adopt cost-effective innovative solutions and depart from the wholesale charges.

Read more about how to benefit from adopting innovative solutions


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