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Entertainment Licence


Businesses, organisations and individuals who want to provide entertainment may require an entertainments licence granted by Council. Certain types of entertainment are regulated under The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (NI) Order 1985

The purpose of the entertainments licensing regime is essentially two-fold:

  • to ensure the safety of those attending the entertainment; and
  • to avoid the entertainment causing undue disturbance to people living in the surrounding area.


Who needs a licence?

Anyone who wishes to provide regulated entertainment will require a valid entertainments licence for the venue.

There are two main categories of licence - indoor and outdoor licences.

1. Indoor entertainments

When deciding whether a licence is required for indoor entertainment, we consider two questions:

  • Is the type of entertainment subject to licensing?; and
  • If so, will a charge be made?

A licence will only be needed if the answer to both questions is yes.


Regulated types of entertainment

The entertainments subject to licensing are:

  • A theatrical performance
  • Dancing, singing or music or any similar entertainment
  • An indoor circus
  • A public contest or display of boxing or other similar sports, or billiards, snooker and the like games, or darts.

An entertainment licence will also be required if you provide machines for entertainment and amusement as well as equipment for playing billiards, snooker or other similar games - unless the machines or equipment are incidental to the main use.


What is meant by “charge”?

The type of charges, which if levied at a place where the above entertainments are being given will mean an entertainment licence will be required, are as follows:

  • An admission charge
  • A charge for meals or refreshment
  • A charge for using machines or equipment for entertainment or amusement.


There are a number of exemptions to the requirements for indoor entertainments licences, including music or singing in a church and, in certain circumstances, schools and other educational institutions.

A full list of exemptions is available here.


2. Outdoor entertainments

An entertainments licence is also required for any public musical entertainment which is held wholly or mainly in the open air and at a place on private land.

For this requirement to apply, music or singing must be a substantial ingredient of the entertainment. In addition, the requirement only applies if the public only have access to the venue (whether on payment or otherwise) with permission of the person in control of the venue.


There are exemptions to the requirement for an outdoor entertainments licence, which include garden fetes, sporting or athletic events and any entertainment held in a pleasure fair.

A full list of exemptions is available here.

If you are unsure if you need a licence, please contact us for advice.


Applying for a licence

Things you should be aware of before applying:

1. Eligibility

Applicants must be 18 or older and be deemed to be a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

An application for an entertainments licence may be refused if the applicant has been convicted of an offence of providing unlicensed entertainment, or providing entertainments otherwise than in accordance with the licence terms and conditions, within the period of 5 years immediately preceding the date when the application was made.


2. The type of licence required

Before applying, you should be aware that there are three different types of licence available.

  • A full licence, renewable annually;
  • An occasional licence which authorises entertainment on 1 to 14 particular dates or on any fourteen unspecified days within 12 months; and
  • A provisional licence which does not come into operation until approved building works have been carried out and the licence is confirmed by the council.


3. Planning approval requirement

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


How to apply

1. Type of application

When applying for an entertainment licence for premises for the first time, you will have to apply for a grant of a licence.

You can apply to renew an existing licence; however, for the application to be regarded as a renewal application, it must be received before the expiry date of the existing licence. Licences are renewed on a “like-for-like” basis. If you wish to amend the terms, conditions or restrictions under which a licence is held, you will have to make an application to vary the licence.

Holders of an entertainments licence may apply for a variation of the licence while it remains in force, e.g. to allow an additional type of entertainment to be authorised.

Where premises are to be, or are in the course of being, constructed, extended or altered, and the Council is satisfied that the premises

would, if constructed in accordance with plans deposited, be such that it would grant the licence, the Council may provisionally grant the licence subject to a condition that it shall be of no effect until confirmed by the Council when it is satisfied that the premises have been completed in accordance with the plans deposited, or those plans as modified with the approval of the Council, and that the licence is held by a fit and proper person.


2. Application form

Applications must be made in writing using the appropriate form for the type of application. Application forms are available on the downloads page. [insert link to EL downloads page]

The completed application form must be returned to Council’s Licensing section.

[Note: while we cannot currently accept on-line applications, we hope to be in a position to do so in the near future.]


3. Fee

Applications for the Grant, Provisional Grant, Renewal or Variation of a licence must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.

The fees set by the Department for Communities are available for download here.

Please note that the application fee is non-returnable if the application is refused.

4. Additional documentation

As part of the application process, you must submit various documentation and certification with your application, which depend on the type of application being made.

Details of the required items (documents and certificates) are available on the downloads page.


Public notice advertisements

Except for educational institutions, church halls or other buildings used for religious worship, within 7 days of applying for the licence, the applicant must give Public Notice of the application by publishing an advertisement, in the approved format, in a local newspaper.

The public notice must be advertised in one of the following newspapers:

For premises located in County Derry/Londonderry: “Derry Journal”, “Derry News”, “Londonderry Sentinel” or “Belfast Telegraph” (North West Edition)

For premises located in County


“Tyrone Constitution”, “Ulster Herald”, “Strabane Weekly News” or “Strabane Chronicle”

A template notice may be downloaded from the downloads page.

You must send us a copy of the advertisement.


What happens when we receive your application?

1. Processing time:

You should allow a minimum of 8 weeks from the date we receive a valid application for us to process it. However, processing will take longer if objections are received in relation to the application, in which case the application will be determined by Committee.

2. Validation:

Once we have received your application, we will check to ensure that we have all the required items, a process known as “validation”. After we have checked, we will advise you whether we require any additional items. We will then permit 20 working days for the remaining items to be submitted, otherwise the application may be rejected as being invalid. In such circumstances, you would be required to submit a fresh application.

3. Consultation:

Prior to granting a permit, we are required to consult with the PSNI and NIFRS and we must take any observations they make into account when determining the application. It is important to note that we cannot proceed to the consultation stage until we have received all the required items, so failure to provide all items will delay the processing time.

4. Consideration of representations:

Before determining an application the council must have regard to any public representations. If, during the 28 day period permitted for receipt of representations, we receive objections to an application both the applicant and those who object to the application will be offered the opportunity to appear before and be heard by the Committee.

Neither the applicant nor the persons making such representations are obliged to appear; however, all representations will be considered by the Committee when determining whether the application should be granted.

Applicants will be made aware of any representations received at the earliest practical opportunity.

Further information on representations - how to make them and how we deal with them – is available here. 

5. Inspection of the premises:

An officer will carry out an inspection to assess the suitability of the premises for the provision of entertainments.

Can I provide entertainments once I submit an application?

No. Entertainments cannot be provided until an entertainments licence is in force for the premises, following proper consideration of the application.

However, the law does provide that where we receive an application to renew (or transfer) a licence before the expiry date of an existing licence, that licence is deemed to remain in force beyond its expiry date until the renewal application is determined.

We endeavour to process applications as quickly as possible, with a target of 8 weeks. If you have not heard from the Council within that period, please contact us.


Entertainments licences terms, conditions and restrictions

Entertainments licences are granted for a period of up to 12 months and are subject to standard conditions governing the provision of entertainment, including:

· the days and hours during which entertainments may be provided

· the nature of entertainment which may be provided

· the areas in which entertainment may be provided

· permitted occupancy figures.

Further conditions cover the technical requirements and management rules applicable to entertainments premises.

Please contact us if you wish to receive a copy of Council’s current terms, conditions and restrictions for entertainments premises.


What happens after a licence is granted?

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 officers can take enforcement action to ensure you’re complying 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, on conviction, a fine of up to £20,000.


Appeals against Council decisions

Where an application is refused the applicant has a right of appeal to the County Court. This must be done within 21 days of the date the applicant has been notified of such a decision.

Applicants may also appeal any term, condition or restriction subject to which the licence is held. Again, appeals must be lodged with the County Court within 21 days of receiving notification of the term, condition or restriction.

On appeal, the decision of the County Court will be final.


Contact details

Licensing and Safety Advisory Group Derry City and Strabane District Council

· 98 Strand Road, Derry, BT48 7NN, or

· 47 Derry Road, Strabane, BT82 8DY

Telephone: (028) 71253253 E-mail: [email protected]


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