Advice & Support

What licences do I need?

Want to screen a film but not sure how to get started? Here's our guide to non-theatrical exhibition and the licences you need to consider.

Easy read version

Any screening of a film to a group of people requires licensing, whether they are a paying audience or not. It’s a popular misconception that it is perfectly legal to screen films to a non-paying audience, but this is simply not the case. There are clear legal channels for screening any film outside the home.

To screen films to the public outside of a traditional cinema context is called non-theatrical exhibition. Examples include film clubs, schools, bars, hotels, oil-rigs, shops, holiday resorts, care homes and hospitals as well as community groups.

Films screened non-theatrically are usually screened from Blu-ray or DVD, though options to play them from downloadable files are growing.


If you want to put on a film screening, there are two areas of licensing to consider:

  1. Film copyright licensing – the licence to screen the particular film title(s) you wish to show, required for all screenings outside the home
  2. Premises licensing – the licence for the activity of screening a film to the public, required ONLY if you aim to generate a profit from tickets being sold

The two permissions are completely separate and the possession of one licence does not provide exemption from any requirements of the other.

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