Freedom of the Company
Becoming a Freeman of the Company
The first stage of membership is to become a Freeman of the Company. There are three routes to apply:
- By right. If you are qualified as an orthoptist, dispensing optician, optometrist or ophthalmologist or have passed WCSM examinations at Level 2 or above, you can apply to become a Freeman.
- By patrimony. If one of your parents was a Freeman of the Company before or at the time of your birth, you can apply to become a Freeman by patrimony.
- By recommendation. If you do not qualify under either of the above routes, you can still apply to become a Freeman but you will need your application to be supported by two existing Liverymen of the Company.
How much does it cost?
There is no charge to apply. Once your application has been approved, when you make your Declaration as a Freeman, you will be asked to pay £145. This gives at least one full year of membership and includes all initial administration costs.
You will then be asked to renew your membership at the next renewal point (1 June) by paying the quarterage set for that year. By tradition, Freemen used to come to meetings to discuss business and pay their subscriptions to the Company in person on each of the Quarter Days (Lady Day, Midsummer, Michaelmas and Christmas). The fees are still called "Quarterage" but are now paid just once a year, by direct debit, bank transfer or credit card. Currently, quarterage for Freemen is £130 per year; quarterage for Liverymen is £350 per year.
At least 8 weeks’ notice is given of any increase in quarterage. If you do not pay your annual quarterage, your membership will end.
What happens to my form?
Application forms go forward to the Court for approval.
The Court meets quarterly. The Clerk then contacts all those whose applications have been approved to
invite them to be admitted to the Freedom
formally, in a short ceremony. The ceremony can be private, by appointment with the Clerk. The Declaration requires each Freeman to confirm their obedience to the rules of the Crown, the City and the Company.