SmartWater for churches

12 June 2023

To help you get the best experience from your SmartWater, we have produced a number of FAQs.

DeterTech UK Limited provides the SmartWater product for Ecclesiastical Church policyholders.

Theft of metal is an ongoing challenge for churches, but there are steps you can take to help protect your church. As such, we require all churches to apply a forensic marking system, such as SmartWater, to external metal to benefit from theft of metal cover. SmartWater has been successful in both helping deter thieves and tracing stolen goods. To support churches Ecclesiastical pays the annual SmartWater registration fee for all its customers.

Your church policy provides cover for metal theft, and subsequent damage, as long as you have taken the following steps:

  • Applied a forensic marking system approved by us (such as SmartWater) to external metal.
  • Registered the marking system with the provider, please note that if you purchase SmartWater quoting Ecclesiastical we will register the system for you.
  • Clearly displayed signage of the marking system to deter thieves.

You may also be able to benefit from increased cover if you install a roof alarm.

Please be aware – if you do not comply with these requirements your church will not be covered for theft of metal. Please let us know if there is any reason why your church isn’t able to meet the requirements and we will try to assist you.


SmartWater is a traceable liquid, known as a forensic marking system, which can be used to protect all kinds of items that may be targeted by thieves.
Each bottle of SmartWater contains a unique forensic code, so anything marked with it can be identified and traced back to its owner (provided it has been registered with SmartWater Technology Ltd). It can also be used to link criminals with crime scenes. The liquid is almost invisible under normal light, but glows brightly under UV light, making it easily identifiable by the police.
SmartWater is well known to criminals. By displaying the SmartWater logo you are sending out a powerful warning to any would-be thieves. In the unfortunate event that you experience a theft, any stolen property marked with SmartWater can be traced back to your church, providing the police with vital evidence to assist in a criminal prosecution.
If lead or copper is legitimately removed from the roof by approved contractors they should be provided with a letter or receipt of ownership to show at the scrap metal merchants.
SmartWater also provide a Transfer of Ownership form that should be used in such instances. 
Yes. SmartWater is very robust so you will not need to re-apply it after cleaning. Please make sure you carefully read the application guidelines supplied with your SmartWater pack.
You will find guidance in the application guidelines supplied with your SmartWater pack.
Once you have marked external metals and valuables, SmartWater can also be applied to communion items and other valuables inside the church. Please be sure to follow specific application guidelines for marking internal items.
SmartWater can be used on multiple buildings associated with each other, (e.g. a church and its church hall) provided they are in reasonably close proximity, (i.e. within the same town or village). However, the same batch of SmartWater cannot be used on two different churches, regardless of their proximity.
There is currently no requirement from Ecclesiastical to re-apply SmartWater after a set amount of time. However, SmartWater is guaranteed for five years and after this period it should be inspected using a UV lamp to ensure it still fluoresces. In its liquid form, (i.e. still in the bottle) SmartWater has a use-by date which is printed on the bottle.
Where possible, we would always recommend that SmartWater is applied directly to the surface of the metal. Applying SmartWater on top of a ‘barrier’ such as Patination Oil could affect the adherence and allow for easier removal, though it will not directly impede detection. As an alternative, SmartWater could be applied to the untreated underside, so long as there is access.
Although transferable forms of SmartWater do exist, your SmartWater is not designed to be removed, and is therefore non-transferrable. That said, the ambiguous messaging used on deterrent signage can fuel misconceptions in the mind of the criminal as to what type of SmartWater product is in use, furthering the deterrent.

Unless expressly stated otherwise, your church will be entered onto SmartWater’s database prior to your goods being shipped. As a result, there is no need to return any documentation after the application of the fluid has been completed.

It is a policy condition for your SmartWater pack to be registered, and failure to do so may invalidate your policy. However, unless expressly stated otherwise, we will have already done this on your behalf. If you are unsure if your pack is registered you can check by calling SmartWater on 01952 204102.

No, neither Ecclesiastical nor SmartWater Technology Ltd need to know which assets you have marked, although we do recommend you keep a list for your records.

A series of ‘specially adapted’ SmartWater church packs are available directly from Detertech UK Limited, at a reduced price for Ecclesiastical policyholders.

You can place an order by calling the Church ordering team on 01952 204 102 (Monday to Thursday - 9am to 5.30pm and Friday - 9am to 5pm) or email Prior to any call, please make sure you have your buildings insurance policy number to hand.

To fulfil the requirements of your policy you must have applied SmartWater to all accessible external metal. SmartWater’s smallest external metal marking kit will usually suit most churches and their church ordering team can offer further guidance if required.  
For metal theft cover to apply, the following SmartWater condition must be complied with;
SmartWater condition
  • The external metal of the buildings has been protected with SmartWater.
  • Displayed the associated signage in a prominent position.
  • Registered the use of the system with SmartWater Technology Limited.  
Please ensure you comply with this condition.  If you fail to comply with this condition you will not be covered for theft or attempted theft of external metal or any subsequent damage as a result of the theft or attempted theft of external metal.

No, the annual SmartWater licence fee is paid for you by Ecclesiastical.

If you choose to leave Ecclesiastical, you will need to contact SmartWater to take over the payment of your annual SmartWater licence. If Smartwater has been applied at your church premises it's likely that Ecclesiastical has paid your registration fee.

Your SmartWater registration will cease from the date your policy cover is cancelled. Once your registration has expired, any SmartWater warning signs that are placed around the church premises should be removed. If your PCC want to reinstate SmartWater registration, please contact them directly on 01952 204 102 (a fee may apply).

SmartWater should ideally be brushed in a continuous line along joints and seams of lead or copper roofing, (where one sheet of metal joins the next) and along edges of any flashing, (where it comes out of the wall and along the bottom edge). You’ll find further guidance, in the application guidelines supplied with your SmartWater pack.
To comply with policy conditions you must make sure SmartWater signs are displayed at prominent places around the property. This is to warn thieves that your church is protected. 
Displaying the signage proves that the church is actively protecting its property. This deters criminals and makes a prosecution and conviction more likely in the event of a theft.

SmartWater signs are best displayed where criminals might gain access to items at risk. This could be a wall adjacent to a low-level roof, or a drainpipe providing access to the roof.

Areas of the church that are easily visible are also good but areas of poor visibility, such as the inside of a porch, should be avoided. Perimeter fencing and gates permitting entry to the church are also ideal locations for displaying signage, deterring would-be thieves before they gain entry to the site.

A limited number of free SmartWater warning signs and stickers are available from Ecclesiastical customer services on 0345 777 3322.