Guidance

Entertainment Licensing (Comes into force on 06 April 2015)

Information on whether you need approval to put on certain types of regulated entertainment.

1. Overview

Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to provide types of entertainment may require a licence or other authorisation from a licensing authority - a local council.

The types of businesses and organisations that need a licence for entertainment might include:

  • nightclubs
  • live music venues
  • cinemas
  • larger theatres
  • larger street and open air festivals
  • larger indoor sporting arena

In particular a licence may be required by:

  • anyone that provides any entertainment between 11PM and 8AM;
  • anyone that provides amplified live or recorded music to an audience of more than 500 people;
  • anyone that provides recorded music to an audience on premises not licensed for the sale or supply of alcohol;
  • anyone that puts on a performance of a play or a dance to an audience of more than 500 people, or an indoor sporting event to more than 1,000 spectators
  • anyone that puts on boxing or wrestling
  • anyone that screens a film to an audience

2. Do I need a licence for music entertainment?

Whether a licence is needed for music entertainment will depend on the circumstances. A licence is not required to stage a performance of live music, or the playing of recorded music if:

  • it takes place between 8AM and 11PM; and
  • it takes place at an alcohol on-licensed premises; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people

You also don’t need a licence:

  • to put on unamplified live music at any place between the same hours; or
  • to put on amplified live music at a workplace between the same hours and provided the audience is no more than 500 people.

In other circumstances, a licence may be required. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.
There are exemptions from the need for a licence for music entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance , including for:

  • places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings
  • schools
  • hospitals
  • local authority premises
  • incidental music - music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment

The Guidance also sets out the process by which a local council can review a licence where problems may occur in relation to music entertainment and noise nuisance.

3. Do I need a licence to put on a play or a performance of dance?

Whether a licence is needed for a performance of a play or a dance will depend on the circumstances. A licence is not required to stage a performance of a play or a performance of dance if:

  • it takes place between 8AM and 11PM; and
  • the audience is no more than 500 people.

In other circumstances, a licence may be required. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol. A licence is always required for any activity that is sexual entertainment .

4. Do I need a licence to stage an indoor sporting event?

Whether a licence is needed for an indoor sporting event will depend on the circumstances. A licence is not required to stage an indoor sporting event if:

  • it takes place between 8AM and 11PM; and
  • the number of spectators is not more than 1000 people.

In other circumstances, a licence may be required. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.

5. Do I need a licence to stage boxing or wrestling?

You will need a licence to stage boxing, wrestling and mixed martial arts. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.

6. Do I need a licence to screen a film?

A licence is needed to screen a film or exhibit moving pictures. One licence application can cover all types of regulated entertainment and the sale or supply of alcohol.
There are exemptions from the need for a licence for film entertainment, in defined circumstances as set out in the Guidance, including for:

  • places of public worship, village halls, church halls and other similar buildings
  • education
  • incidental film – moving pictures that are incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment
  • television broadcasts

In other circumstances, a licence may be required to show a film:

  • in public
  • or in private, if those attending are charged for entry and the intention is to make a profit, including raising money for charity.

Licensing of entertainment under the Licensing Act 2003 is entirely separate from copyright authorisation to show films in public.

7. Guidance

Further detail is set out in Guidance issued under the Licensing Act 2003.

You can also contact your local council for advice.

Elsewhere on gov.uk

Alcohol licensing

Early Post-Implementation Review of the Live Music Act

Intellectual property – guidance: Licensing bodies and collecting societies

Performance licences for children

Safety certificates: sports stands

Organising a street party

Elsewhere on the web

Licensing Resource

British Board of film classification

Copyright Hub