What licences do I need?

02 Premises licensing

If you plan to make a profit from your screening, check your venue has a premises licence.

If you plan to charge for tickets to your screening to generate a profit, you will need to check your chosen venue has a premises licence to exhibit films as stipulated by the Licensing Act 2003.

Is my screening for or not-for-profit?

If you are charging for tickets but only to cover your costs, and assuming your screening is to be held between 8.00am and 11.00pm, your venue does not need a premises licence. The Licensing Act 2003 defines screenings of this type as not-for-profit.

You can charge for additional activities (such as refreshments or film talks) with a view to making a profit, as long as these are kept distinct from admission to the film itself.

If you are screening to generate a profit, you need to check your chosen venue has a premises licence in place. Please note that this extends even to screenings where you are selling tickets to raise funds for charity.

My screening will require premises licensing. How should I proceed?

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

If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact the licensing officer at your local authority for advice.

See below for further details of the types of premises licence you can acquire to cover your venue to screen a film.

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 outlined above, since 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. Read about this exemption in the government’s guidance, revised in April 2018 (pg. 130) 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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