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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Licences and permissions for community events

You might need licences, permissions and registrations to hold some community or fundraising events. Premises that provide food and drink also need a licence, although one-off events might not. Find out what licences you might need and how to apply for them.

Supplying alcohol for a one-off event

A licence is not normally needed if you plan to provide alcoholic drinks for free.

If the cost of alcoholic drinks is included in:

  • an entry price for your event
  • the cost of food

you would be considered to be selling alcohol.

If you want to sell alcohol, and no more than 499 people will be attending your event, you should get a 'temporary event notice'. A temporary event notice costs £21 from your local council. A larger scale event involving more than 499 people will require a premises licence (see below).

Anyone over 18 can apply for a temporary event notice for a one-off event involving the sale of alcohol.

Supplying alcohol on a regular basis

Personal licences

Before alcohol can be supplied on a regular basis the person selling or supplying the alcohol must either:

  • have a personal licence or
  • be authorised to supply alcohol by someone who holds a personal licence

To apply for a personal licence you must:

  • be aged 18 or over
  • have an accredited licensing qualification (to show you have been trained in how to sell alcohol safely and legally)
  • not have had a personal licence taken off you in the previous five years
  • provide a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) certificate

The following link asks for details of where you live. The link will then take you to your local council’s website where you can find out more about personal licences.

Premises licences

All premises that supply alcohol must be licensed.

The designated premises supervisor (the person in day-to-day control of the premises) must be a personal licence holder. The supervisor is responsible for making sure that the premises operates legally and meets any conditions attached to the licence.

Serving and selling food

You can serve and sell food up to 11 pm without a licence.

If you provide hot food and drink between 11 pm and 5 am you will need a licence from your local council.

Any site where food is prepared will need a food hygiene registration from your local council.

Licences and public entertainment

You will need to get a licence from your council to hold any public entertainment whether or not an admission charge is made. Public entertainment includes:

  • dancing
  • theatre productions
  • indoor sporting events

Certain public entertainments, for example, street parties or ‘street meets’, may be exempt from the need for any licences. Read ‘Organising a small street party or fete’ to find out more.

Film and video screenings

You can’t show films or videos in public premises unless they are licensed by the local council.

Licences to play music

You don’t need a music licence, whether the music is live or prerecorded, as long as the event is not open to the general public. You don't need a licence to play music at:

  • a private function for residents
  • a family event

If you play recorded music in public in any business context (including fundraising events), you are legally required to get two licences:

  • a ‘Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music’ licence
  • a ‘Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)’ licence

Even if you use your premises for live performances only, you will still need a PRS for Music licence.

To get a PRS for Music licence call 0800 068 4828

To get a PPL licence call 020 7534 1070

Fundraising events

A licence or some other form of permission may be needed for some fundraising activities, for example, charity boot sales. You can contact the Charity Commission’s Helpline on 0870 333 0123 to find out whether or not your plans need a fundraising licence.

House-to-house and street collections

Your local council will be able to tell you if you need a licence for street collections. Police checks may also be involved.
Collections that go from one pub to another are regarded as house-to-house collections and always require a licence.

Lotteries and raffles

If raffle tickets are sold on the day and the prizes aren’t worth more than £500 in total then gambling regulations don’t apply. If tickets are sold in advance, or if prizes include alcohol, you might need a licence.

Small lotteries and raffles need to be registered with your local council.

Larger lotteries and raffles (with ticket sales over £20,000) are covered by gambling legislation and need to be registered with the Gambling Commission. You can call the Gambling Commission on 0121 230 6666

Young people and licensed premises

The licensing laws are strict about children and the supply of alcohol. You can find out what the law says about underage drinking and children’s admission to licensed premises in ‘Alcohol, young people and the law’.

Other licences

To see an A-Z list of activities and services that require a licence, visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

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