What licences do I need?

02 Premises licensing

If you're charging for tickets to a film, check your venue has a premises licence.

If you’re charging for tickets at your screening, you will also need to check your chosen venue has a premises licence to exhibit films. This stipulation is part of the Licensing Act 2003.

Check with your venue if they have an existing premises licence in place. Most public-facing venues already have one; if it’s a venue typically used for other types of entertainment (e.g. a theatre, community centre, concert hall or gallery) they almost certainly will do.

If unsure, it’s best to contact the licensing officer at your local authority for advice, but here’s some general background:

Licensing Act 2003

Under the Licensing Act 2003 a licence is required to provide ‘regulated entertainment’ to members of the public or a section of the public and for members of a club and their guests. One of the descriptions of ‘regulated entertainment’ is the exhibition of a film.

There are three types of licences available to provide ‘regulated entertainment’:

  • A premises licence
  • A club premises certificate
  • A temporary event notice

1. Premises licence

A premises licence is a licence granted, in respect of any premises, which authorises the premises to be used for one or more licensable activities, such as the provision of regulated entertainment. An application for a premises licence must be made to the local authority that the premises is situated in.

As of April 2015 you no longer need a premises licence if your screening is a) not-for-profit and b) to be held between 8.00am and 11.00pm. See this exemption (pg. 99) here.

If you are using a theatre, community centre etc. to show films you will probably find that the premises already has a premises licence from the local authority. You will need to check with the holder of the premises licence that the licence authorises the exhibition of film. If it does not, the holder of a premises licence may apply to the licensing authority for a variation of the licence.

For further details about premises licences please see Part 3 of the Licensing Act 2003.

2. Club premises certificate

A club premises certificate is a certificate in respect of premises occupied by, and habitually used for the purposes of, a club, for one or more qualifying club activities specified in the certificate.

A qualifying club activity is the provision of regulated entertainment, where that provision is by or on behalf of a club for members of the club and their guests.

For further details about the club premises certificate please see Part 4 of the Licensing Act 2003.

3. Temporary event notice

You can apply to your local authority for a temporary event notice to put on a licensable activity (exhibiting a film) if it is a temporary activity where you are proposing to use premises during a period not exceeding 96 hours.

For further details about permitted temporary activities please see Part 5 of the Licensing Act 2003.


There are exemptions from the Licensing Act 2003 – a film is not regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment if its sole or main purpose is to demonstrate a product; advertise goods or services; provide information, education or instruction; consists of or forms part of an exhibit put on show for any purposes of a museum or art gallery.

Please note the information provided here is a guide and does not constitute legal advice. For detailed information about the Licensing Act 2003 please click here.

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