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 theatrical cinema 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

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.