Can I Metal Detect on Any Beach?

The short answer is: it depends. On most beaches in the UK, you can metal detect on freely, providing you have a permit. Councils or the crown owns most beaches in the UK.

You can apply for a permit directly through them, which will allow you to use your metal detector.

You won’t need to get permission from the council to do so; just take your permit with you, and you are good to go! Now, the crown doesn’t own all the beaches, and that’s where it gets tricky.

You will need to check beforehand what beaches the open permit gives you access to. Thankfully, there are lists available online, or you can request one when you get your permit if you like. 

To detect beaches not included, you will need to check who owns them and contact them directly for permission. It might be a trust or a council, and they will have their own rules and regulations about metal detecting on their beaches. 

On some beaches, you cannot use a metal detector on either, usually where councils have banned them to stop people digging up beaches without authorisation. Again you can check this online by finding out who owns the beach and what the regulations are. 

Can I metal detect on Southsea beach?

Currently, you cannot metal detect on Southsea Beach. Portsmouth council that owns Southsea Beach does not allow for any unauthorised excavations on the beach.

Metal detecting has been banned as detecting something and removing it from the sand classes as an unauthorised excavation. Doing so can get you in trouble and leave you with a hefty fine in some cases!

But, there is some good news. The rules are changing! There has been an increase of requests to detect Portsmouth’s land due to historical items being found on Southsea’s seafront.

The rules are set to be changed to allow for more of Portsmouth’s history to be found, to learn more about its rich past. 

Instead of a blanket ban on metal detecting, you can apply to metal detecting on Southsea Beach. Cases will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the council, and if you are successful, a permit will be rewarded!

The land ownership, legal restrictions, and suitability of the request will be assessed before the permit is awarded, so allow plenty of time for this!

The change in the rules is a good step in the right direction, although we don’t know yet how many applications have been made or have been successful.

As time continues, we can expect the rules to relax further, especially if metal detectorists uncover some treasure that adds to Portsmouth’s already rich history. Continue checking Portsmouth’s Councils website for further information and updates on these rules. 

Do you need a License to metal detect on the beach? 

Instead of needing a license to use your metal detector on the beach, you are often required to have a permit. Most beaches, if not all, are owned by the local council, and you require a permit to use your metal detector on them. 

Not all councils will require you to have a permit to use your metal detector, but it’s best to check before you set off! You can call your local council or check on their website to see if they have any regulations regarding metal detectors on their beaches.

Usually, you can apply for a permit over the phone, online, or submit a paper form to the council. Once you have the permit, you are free to use the metal detector on the beach!

For all crown owned beaches, you only need one permit! The open permit allows you to metal detect on all beaches without permission. It’s fantastic news for those that like to travel to different beaches in search of treasure!

But be careful, not all beaches are crown pwned, and you should check this beforehand. You can find a full list of beaches owned by the crown where your permit will be valid. In other cases, you will need to check who owns the land and apply for permits directly with them. 

As well as permits, there is a Code of Conduct that you need to follow. Be sure to give this a read through to ensure you follow the rules before you head out! The National Council for Metal Detecting created the code for all metal detectorists to follow without encountering any trouble along the way. 

What can you find on the beach with a metal detector? 

Jewellery is commonly lost at the beach, especially along the waterline where people enter and exit the sea. You can also find it in popular places where people sit on the beach or nestled between rocks.

The worth of the jewellery varies, but gold rings tend to be the most common item! Commonly, you will find gold rings and jewellery when using a metal detector on the beach.

Depending on the beach, you will also find old relics. Many wars have been fought on beaches or near the water, and over time these relics will wash up onshore. Old military medals have been found, as well as shells and grenades!

Metal detectors have also found older artefacts such as Viking jugs and weaponry on beaches across the UK! 

Gold dust, nuggets, coins, and other artefacts have also been found over the years. Spending some time studying the area’s local history can help determine what you might find on beaches.

Any battles, invasions, or settlements near the sea are sure to have left some treasure still in the ground for you to find! Many archaeologists believe that beaches are still full of artefacts we can discover! 

The sea also brings in objects that could be detected! As our oceans become more and more polluted, we can expect metal shards and tinned cans to be detected. While there may be wonders to be found, expect rubbish and debris on the beach too. 



Written by Gavin Bowler

Keen history and blogging enthusiast. I love metal detecting. Read more of Gavin's articles.