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Entertainment licence

We licence and inspect entertainment places to make sure they maintain high standards of management and have suitable arrangements in place for managing fires and other safety risks.

We also make sure premises are suitable for their intended use and have appropriate levels of insurance, provide access to emergency services and have adequate sanitary and hygiene facilities. This also applies to outdoor entertainment.

Before applying for an entertainment licence, please check if you need planning permission for both indoor and outdoor areas of the entertainment premises with our Planning Service.

Apply for an entertainment licence online

You can apply online for indoor and outdoor entertainment licence.

Please read the terms and conditions for online services and our privacy statement.

Apply for an entertainment licence by post

You can apply for an entertainment licence by downloading the forms below and returning them by post, along with the relevant documents and fees, to:

Building Control
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP

Depending on if you're applying for a new licence, renewing an existing licence, or transferring and varying an existing licence, you'll need to complete different forms.

Apply for a new entertainment licence

Apply to renew, transfer and vary, or transfer and vary an existing licence

Who needs an entertainment licence?

If you provide, or want to provide, entertainment at a venue within the Belfast City Council electoral area, you must have a valid entertainment licence from us.

This applies to private functions and any events for the public where you charge money. Exemptions can be make for religious occasions and, in certain circumstances, schools.

You must be 18 or older to apply for a licence.

If you aren't sure whether you need a licence please contact us. You should also contact us if you're thinking are holding an event and unsure of the safety measures needed.

If you want to renew or transfer an existing licence, you must also apply to us. If there are any changes to your premises or to the type of entertainment provided, you must also apply to us for a variation to your existing licence.

What types of licence are available?

The type of licence depends on the entertainment that you provide. Although we issue licences for both indoor and outdoor events, their conditions vary depending on the how often you provide entertainment and the nature of the premises where it will take place.

If you want to apply for both, you must make separate applications and supply the accompanying information for both types of licence.

Type of entertainment 

Licence needed           

Theatrical performances
Dancing
Singing
Music or other similar entertainment
Circuses
Public contests, matches, exhibitions or displays of boxing, wrestling, judo and karate (or other similar sport).
Billiards, pool, snooker or darts (or other similar game) 

Indoor licence                                                           

Any public musical entertainment held entirely or mainly in the open air on private land (regardless of any change)

Outdoor licence

Garden fetes or bazaars
Religious meetings or services
Exhibitions or sales of work
Sports or athletics events
Other functions or events of a similar nature (limited to one day or extended over two or more days) 

No licence needed

Entertainment licences - date and frequency of entertainment  

Date and frequency  

Licence needed 

Variation

Regular



Monday to Saturday or Monday to Sunday
 

Annual licence               

Six-day annual application which allows entertainment to take place from Monday to Saturday for a 12-month period


Seven-day annual application which allows entertainment to take place from Monday to Sunday for a 12-month period

Infrequent 

Occasional licence

14-day occasional licence where the days of use are not specified


14-day occasional licence where the days of use are specified and allow entertainment to take place on 14 individual days within a 12-month period

 

If you are granted a 14-day unspecified occasional licence, you must notify us at least 14 days before each event is due to take place.

Entertainment licences - type of premises 

Event   Licence needed 
Premises already open  Grant
Premises currently being constructed, extended or altered  Provisional grant

 

What documents are needed to apply?

Once you know the type of licence you need, you can apply online or fill in the relevant application forms and return by post.

You must provide a range of documents relating to your premises. If you're applying for a renewal, transfer or variation of an existing licence, you must also supply the certificates listed below.

We only accept original certificates - faxes and photocopies will not be accepted. Certificates will be copied and the originals returned to you, if requested.

You must also submit three copies of the floor plan of your premises (at a scale of 1:100). You must also do this if you're applying for a variation of your existing licence and have altered the layout of your premises, added another area to be licensed or intend to do so.

Send hard copies to:

Building Control
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP

Documents required for entertainment licensing applications 

Type of document                                                            
Document duration 
Public liability insurance declaration  One year
Entertainment licence advertisements  One year
Fire extinguisher certificate  One year
Emergency lighting certificate   One year
Fire alarm certificate   One year
Electrical certificate  Maximum of three years
Heating certificate  Two years
Ventilation certificate  Two years
Ceiling certificate   Four years
Structural floor certificate  Indefinite - this will then only be needed if your premises are altered or extended
Fire risk Assessment  One year

 You can download the following guidance notes for further information:

How are applications processed?

Timescales

Please allow a minimum of 28 days from the date of receipt for us to process your application.

We consult with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service when considering entertainment licensing applications and take any observations they make into account. We also give other interested parties the chance to express their views before we make our final decision.

During this time, the licensing surveyor will inspect your premises. We can't progress your application or carry out an inspection until we receive three copies of the floor plans of your premises.

We may ask you to undertake remedial work at your premises to bring the building up to a suitable standard before we can issue a licence.

Entertainment licence advertisements

Within seven days of submitting your application, you must also place legal notice of it in one local newspaper. These are not required for applications for a 14-day occasional licence made by schools, church halls, voluntary organisations or charities.


Objections

If we receive objections to an application which are not resolved through mediation, the application will be referred to our Licensing Committee for further consideration. If this happens, both you and anyone who objects to your application will have the chance to present a case to the committee. 

Appeals

If an application is refused or where terms, conditions or restrictions are imposed or where a licence is revoked, you have the right to appeal our decision. Appeals must be lodged within 21 days of you being informed of the decision to the County Court. Their decision is final. 

What happens when a licence is approved?

You shouldn’t consider your licence granted until you receive formal confirmation from us.  And you shouldn’t provide any entertainment at your premises until we issue you with a valid entertainment licence.

It's a serious offence to breach the terms of an entertainment licence, especially to allow overcrowding. This can lead to your licence being revoked or suspended, as well as a fine of up to £20,000.

All entertainment licences are granted for a period of up to 12 months and are subject to standard conditions such as:

  • days and hours of use
  • the nature of entertainment which may be provided
  • occupancy figures.

Applications for renewals should be submitted at least one month before your licence is due to expire. We'll write to you in advance to remind you to renew your licence.

If you’re issued with a licence for the first time, you’ll receive our Rules of Management for Places of Indoor Entertainment document. 

These rules help you manage and operate your licensed premises properly. You must keep these on site at all time as part of the conditions of your licence. Our licensing surveyors may ask to see it when carrying out performance inspections.

If you are granted a licence, your premises will be inspected regularly to check that you are complying with the conditions of your licence and managing the premises properly. If necessary, our surveyors can take enforcement action to ensure you’re meeting with the licence conditions. 

How much do entertainment licences cost?

The cost of an entertainment licence depends on the type of licence that you need. These fees are non-refundable, even if your application is refused.

Type of licence  Number of people or type of event  Fee
(based on maximum number of patrons)
Indoor entertainment licence (annual)  Less than 100                                        
£100
101 to 200 £150 
201 - 300 £250 
301 - 500 £400 
501 - 1,000 £750
More than 1,000 £1,000
£100

This fee does not apply when the machines or equipment are not the main focus of entertainment and are provided as an addition to the main use of the premises


Machines or equipment for entertainment or amusement (excluding gaming machines)

Equipment for billiards, pool, snooker or other similar game
Circus  £50
     
Indoor entertainment licence (14-day occasional)  Less than 100  £50
101 -200  £75
201 - 300  £125
301 - 500  £200
501 to 1.000  £375
More than 1,000  £500
Schools, church halls, voluntary organisations (holding a non-profit event) or charities wishing to hold an indoor entertainment event  £50 (set fee regardless of the number of  patrons)
     
Outdoor entertainment licence (music)  Less than 500  £1,000 
More than 500  £2,000 
     
Outdoor entertainment licence (music)
(For voluntary groups and charities) 
Less than 500  £125
More than 500  £250 
     
Variations to the terms, conditions or restrictions of an existing entertainment licence cost £80 

Fees can be paid by cheque or postal or money order (made payable to Belfast City Council), or  by credit and debit card using our online payment system.

I'm planning a large outdoor event. What advice is available?

If you want to hold a large outdoor event, such as a concert or other musical entertainment, you'll need a licence from us.

Licensing events in this way helps to ensure high standards of health and safety management and minimises the impact it may have on local residents.

Once you have been granted an entertainment licence, you must supply us with an event management plan specific to your event at least one month before it's due to take place (for larger events, more time is needed). Your plan should provide proposals on issues such as:

  • site layout
  • crowd management
  • stewarding
  • temporary structures
  • noise control.

The finish time for outdoor events is normally 11pm. You must consult us well in advance if you want your event to finish after this time.

You'll also need to consider how you manage litter and waste at your event.

The Health and Safety Executive provide the Event Safety Guide with information on planning outdoor events in a range of locations, such as purpose-built arenas, sites not designed for public entertainment, open-air stadia and parks.

Queries

If you have any queries or complaints about the licensing process, or to find out if a licence has been issued, please contact us.


Contact us
Building control
028 9027 0650
Building Control
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP