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Licences and permits

Entertainment licence

  • Coronavirus update

    Our offices at Cecil Ward Building are closed. We are working remotely with a limited service for entertainment licences. Please contact us as outlined and we will resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

    How COVID-19 affects your entertainment licence application

    My licence expires during the current lockdown but I have already made my renewal application – what will happen? 

    If we have already received a renewal application from you, your licence will remain in force even though the renewal date has passed.  We will inspect your premises as soon as we are able and make a renewal decision at that date.  This means that your premises should be able to operate once government restrictions are lifted.  

    My licence expires during the current lockdown and I haven’t yet made my renewal application – what should I do? 

    You must still submit an application to renew your licence even if you are unsure if you intend to operate in the future. This will enable you to resume the licensable activity once the government restrictions are lifted. If your licence has already expired or you are unable to pay the application fee to accompany your renewal application please contact us urgently to discuss how we can help. 

    How do I apply to renew a licence during the current restrictions?

    If your licence is due to expire soon you should already have received a renewal reminder application pack. We may also contact you by email (if we have your email address) or phone to confirm if you want to renew your licence.  

    Anyone who has not received a pack, or who needs one now for a later renewal can email  

    Do I need to advertise my renewal application?

    The council has temporarily suspended the requirement for you to advertise your application in local newspapers.  You will need to place the adverts at a later date – we will let you know this date when we are able.  No decision can be taken on your application until the advertisement takes place.  

    I cannot supply updated certificates – what should I do?

    It is accepted that applicants will not be in a position to commission certificates that would normally be submitted with a licence application.  These should be provided as soon as possible once restrictions are lifted. 

    If you do have valid certificates (or for other relevant documentation) you can submit these by email to

    Can I have a rebate on my renewal fee given I have been forced to close?

    You must pay the full renewal fee with your application.  However, in order to help you with this cost, the renewal date will be when we make a decision about your application, rather than the expiry date of your old licence.  Your new licence will last for 12 months from when we approve your application (once all technical and legislative requirements are met).

  • Entertainment licences

    We license 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 
    • have appropriate levels of insurance
    • provide access to emergency services
    • 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.

  • 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
    • 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.

    You should also contact us if you're thinking of holding an event and are unsure if you need a licence or are unsure of the safety measures needed.

  • How to apply

    Apply 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 by post

    We have limited access to the office due to COVID-19 but post will be reviewed as and when possible.

    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. 

    Post us a completed application form, along with the relevant documents and fee.

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

    To request the appropriate entertainment licence forms, email or call us on 028 9027 0650.  

    You can also call into our public office and pick up the relevant documents.  

  • 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 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
    Theatrical performances
    Music or other similar entertainment
    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

    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.

    Premises of event

    Type of premises Licence needed
    Premises already open Grant
    Premises currently being constructed, extended or altered Provisional grant

    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.

  • Documents needed

    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
    BT2 8BP

    Type of document Document duration
    Fire safety drawings Required when you apply for an entertainment licence and when you apply for a variation
    Fire Risk Assessment One year
    Entertainment licence advertisement One year
    Public liability insurance declaration One year
    Emergency lighting certificate One year
    Fire alarm certificate One year
    Fire extinguisher certificate One year
    Electrical certificate Maximum of three years
    Ceiling certificate As requested by the surveyor
    Structural floor certificate Indefinite - this will then only be needed if your premises are altered or extended
    Acoustic report As requested by the surveyor

    Please contact us if you want further information about:

    • Required documents and certification
    • Public Liability Insurance
    • Renewal Inspection
    • Fire Risk Assessments
  • 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 or for church halls.

    Please contact us if you want further information about advertising.

  • Objections and appeals


    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.


    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.

    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.  Please contact us if you want a replacement copy of the Rules of “Management for Places of Indoor Entertainment” emailed to you.

    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. 

    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. 

  • 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

    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.

  • Planning a large outdoor event

    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 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 provides 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.

    Please contact us for our guide for organising outdoor events.

Contact us

For more information and advice, get in touch.

028 9027 0650

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

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