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Children's licences and permits

Child performance

Legislation and regulations around child performance

The legislation exists in order to protect the welfare of children and young people who take part in performances and to ensure they are protected from exploitation. The laws and regulations place a duty on Local Authorities to ensure the health, welfare and kind treatment of children involved in the entertainment industry and also to issue licences permitting their participation in such activities and performances.

When a child needs a performance licence 

The law in relation to children in entertainment and performance licences applies to all children from birth until they reach compulsory school leaving age. In England, this is the last Friday in June of the school year when the child reaches the age of 16 and finishes Year 11 at school.

The application has to be made to the Local Authority where the child lives, not where the performance is taking place (unless the performance is covered by a BOPA).  An application for licence must be made in writing by the person responsible for the production or activity in which the child is taking part.

Licences are needed for performances where:

  • the child is being paid
  • they are taking place at a licensed premise or at a registered club
  • the performance is to be broadcast or recorded by whatever means with a view to its use in a future broadcast or film intended for public exhibition.
  • the child requires time off school in order to perform

Types of performance that need to be licensed

  • a child is employed for modelling, photographic or catwalk
  • a child is performing on stage or for television, film, commercials, radio, voiceovers etc.
    • this includes dance and drama school shows, music hub/music service performances, festivals
  • a child is taking part in paid/professional sport

It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that they have requested leave from the child’s school if the child will be missing school to take part in a performance.

Submitting your application

Please make sure you send your completed application form to us no less than 21 days before the first performance or activity for which the licence is requested. Otherwise the licence may not be granted.

All completed application forms need to be sent to

Body of persons application

A body of persons application (BOPA) provides an exemption to an organisation that would normally be required to individually licence children taking part in performances.

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