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Licensing - Theatre Licence

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Licence Summary

A licence is required where it is intended to perform any play in public. It does not matter if the performance is free - a licence is still required.

“Play” is defined in the 1968 Theatres Act as “any dramatic piece, whether involving improvisation or not, which is given wholly or in part by one or more persons actually present and performing and in which the whole or a major proportion of what is done by the person or persons performing, whether by way of speech, singing or action, involves the playing of a role”. This includes any ballet.

A theatre licence is required for any premises or any place whether or not another type of licence is in force.

Eligibility Criteria

No provision in the legislation.

Regulation Summary

Theatres Act 1968

Application must be:

  • made in writing (including electronic means)
  • be signed by the applicant (including electronic means)

The applicant must give the licensing authority and the Chief Constable in whose area the premises is situated not less than 21 days notice of his intention to make an application and furnish such particulars as may be required.

Application Evaluation Process

The licensing authority will send a copy of the application to the Chief Constable, Fire Authority, Building Standards and Environmental Health.

Will Tacit Consent Apply?

No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it. You can do this online if you applied through the UK Welcomes service or use the contact details below.

Apply online

You are now able to apply for this service using the ELMS portal system supplied by the UK Government's Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Please click on the link, on the right,if you wish to use this facility.

Failed Application Redress

If you wish to appeal against a decision you may do so to the local sheriff within 21 days of the notification of the decision.

Consumer Complaint

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the licence holder by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK,  will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

Other Redress

Contact the licensing authority.

Trade Associations


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Frequently Asked Questions