Public Collections has been published in response to fears that confidence in charities is being undermined by the loose legislation surrounding street and door-to-door fundraising.
The document, on which charities have three months to comment, describes the current legal framework as "inconsistent, fragmented, outdated and complex".
Under the proposals, local authorities, which are said to frequently refuse licences because of little more than councillors' prejudices, would be bound by the same rules.
National charities would also be spared having to contact every council where they operate because they would be able to nominate a lead local authority that they can deal with exclusively.
The time saved would be balanced against a requirement for charities to provide more information when they apply for licences in order to guard against bogus collectors.
However, licences would be free and some local charities could be exempt. There would also be a wider right to appeal against authorities that refuse licences.
"We need fair, transparent regulation which facilitates responsible fundraising but deters bogus collectors and prevents public nuisance," said Home Office charities minister Fiona Mactaggart.