Showing films in public

You need a ‘non-theatrical’ film licence to show films and TV programmes in public (but not in a cinema), for example:

  • at one-off events
  • at film clubs - whether or not you sell tickets
  • in common areas for guests, residents and passengers
  • in retail and entertainment venues

The one exception is curriculum-based screenings in state schools, where you do not need your own licence.

To run a commercial cinema you need a premises licence. Apply to your local council.

Get advice

The type of licence you need depends on how you’ll use the films - see the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) guidance. Contact the ICO if you need more help.

Independent Cinema Office

Showing TV broadcasts that include film

Check with a licensing company or the film’s copyright holder whether you need their permission to show the TV broadcast in public. See the Intellectual Property Office’s guidance on showing television broadcasts in public.

You could be sued for damages if you show a film under copyright in public without being licensed. This includes DVD, Blu-Ray and video formats.

Where to get your licence

You can get licences (for example annual or one-off) from companies like:

These companies represent different film studios so you’ll need to make sure they cover the films you want.

A film may also be available direct from distributors such as the British Film Institute (BFI) or the copyright owner. Search the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) register to find a distributor.