What are the rules on ice cream van chimes? This is what the law says

How often does your local ice cream van come down your street? <i>(Image: Getty)</i>
How often does your local ice cream van come down your street? (Image: Getty)

For most of us, ice cream van music is just one of the fond sounds of our childhoods.

There are plenty of ice cream vans are still around today, driving around our neighbourhoods and always on hand to offer our favourite ice creams and ice lollies throughout the warmer months of the year.

Many will have enjoyed a sweet treat from an ice cream van after picking up their children from school or after a few hours at the park.

But do you think ice cream van chimes are too loud these days?

Ice cream van music is legal, but there are rules outlined by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) which means if not followed, they could be breaking the law.

For example, ice cream vans are banned from playing their tunes before 12pm and after 7pm.

Recommended reading:

Is ice cream van music legal in England?

In 2013, Defra introduced the code of practice on noise from ice cream van chimes in England.

The document lays out what noise is and isn’t allowed by ice cream vans, according to The Nationwide Caterers Association, such as:

  • No chimes should be operated which produce a noise level in any direction of more 80 Decibels

  • The passage of music played should not last more than 12 seconds.

  • The chimes should be played once only on the approach to each stopping place (or ‘selling point’), only once when the van is stationary, and never at intervals of less than 2 minutes.

  • The chimes should not be played more often than once every 2 hours in a particular length of street.

  • The chimes should not be played when in sight of another van (whether moving or stationary) which might reasonably be taken to be in the street for trading purposes.

  • Subject to those considerations, the chimes should be played only as often as is necessary to let customers know that the commodity is on sale from the vehicle.

  • The chimes should not be played in areas where people may be especially sensitive to their sound.


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In particular they should not be played:

  • within 50 metres of any hospital or similar institution

  • within 50 metres of a school during school hours

  • within 50 metres of a place of worship on a Sunday or other recognised day of worship

Read more about the code of practice on noise from ice cream van chimes on the GOV.UK website.