July 03, 2014

What you need to know about licensing and permissions

In the UK in the late ’80s, illegal raves became so prevalent that the British government were forced to introduce new legislation. Punishment for holding an illegal event became a fine of £20,000 and six months in prison. Sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it?


It needn’t. You just need to make sure you’re covered with sufficient licensing before planning your event. It might not be as much as fun as lining up the entertainment, acts, food, drink and other creative aspects of your event, but sorting out your legal affairs should be the first item on your event planning list. Without it, well, it could all go very sour.

The Licensing Act 2003 sets out the circumstances under which you need accreditation, and what kind you should seek to obtain depending on your specific plans.

Basically, you need some form of license if you’re putting on any kind of “Regulated Entertainment” which includes:

  • The performance of a play
  • An exhibition of a film
  • An indoor sporting event
  • Boxing or wrestling entertainment
  • A performance of live music
  • Any playing of recorded music
  • A performance of dance
  • Entertainment of a similar description to live music, recorded music or dance

Most events will probably hit off at least one of these criteria, so in that case – what license do you need?

Temporary Events Notice

If your event consists of under 500 guests and runs for less than four days (96 hours), a Temporary Events Notice will cover you. Applications must be submitted at least 10 days in advance of the event taking place, both to your local council and police.

Premises License

This one is much more complex and requires a longer application process. As the name suggests, it’s specific to a venue rather than an event, so it’s probably rare you’ll need to go down this route. Wherever you’re planning your event, liaise with the venue management to check the licensing status – never assume someone else has got you covered.

What to do now? Check this resource for more advice and detail about licensing, and get your application in!

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By Dominick Soar