Diocese of Chichester

Permission to Officiate (PTO) is the way in which clergy who are not incumbents or licensed by the Bishop are authorised to exercise their ministry as deacons and priests. Many of those holding Permission to Officiate have retired from licensed ministry. Others are licensed in another diocese or are for some reason currently without an ecclesiastical office.

Many PTO clergy help regularly in their home parishes or enable ministry to be provided during vacancies, clergy holidays, and other absences.

The grant (and removal) of PTO is at the Bishop’s discretion, and does not carry the particular rights and responsibilities of licensed ministry.

Those with PTO can minister in any parish within the Diocese, but only at the invitation of the Incumbent/Priest in Charge or, during a Vacancy, the Rural Dean. The law prevents ministry without such permission.


If you are seeking PTO, either for the first time, or as a renewal of your existing permission, please contact:

The Rev’d Andy Birks
The Palace
Canon Lane
West Sussex
PO19 1PY

Email: andy.birks@chichester.anglican.org

Telephone : 01243 782 161

We will then proceed with the necessary actions in order to start the application or renewal process for the PTO certificate.

Please include details of where you intend to assist in your ministry. You will be required to have the agreement of the incumbent at the parish where you wish to support.

Please note that The Revd Andy Birks works at the Palace on Tuesdays only.


The Diocese is committed to the highest levels of safeguarding. All PTO clergy are required to have completed Church of England C3 Leadership Clergy Safeguarding training (Levels C1 and C2) within the last three years, or be booked onto a forthcoming training session. Details of upcoming safeguarding training events can be found here.

The policy of the House of Bishops is that those who hold PTO must have a current DBS. These must be renewed at five year intervals and your PTO term will run concurrently with your DBS. Please contact Kim Nash for further information.

If you are new to the Diocese, your current Bishop will be asked to provide a commendation (in the form of an episcopal reference and clergy current status letter).