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When you need a licence

Professional performances

You must have a licence for a school-age child to take part in a professional performance. This includes:

  • theatre, film and broadcast performances
  • modelling
  • A sporting performance 

School age is classed as up to the end of the academic year after the child turns 16. Children who turn 16 during the academic year are still of compulsory school age.This means that children of compulsory school age and below cannot take part in a performance, paid sport or work as a model without a performance licence.

We require 10 clear working days’ notice before the date of the first performance (excluding weekends and bank holidays).

The licence is to be issued by the local authority where the child resides.

A licence is needed if:

  • it is paid work
  • the child is required to be absent from school in order to appear
  • the child will be working for over 4 days
  • the child has performed, licensed or unlicensed, within the previous 6 months
  • the performance is taking place on licensed premises
  • There are strict guidelines on the number of hours and days a child may perform, which vary according to their age and the nature of the work proposed.

Amateur performances

You must have a licence for a school-age child to take part in an amateur production if the child performs more than four times in a six-month period. This includes paid and unpaid performances.

When you don't need a licence

Amateur performances

You don't need a licence for an amateur performance where all of the following apply:

  • the child isn't being paid
  • the child isn't missing school
  • the child performs less than four times in a six-month period.

In this case, you need to get an exemption letter from the local authority confirming that the child doesn't need a licence.

Please note - You don't need a licence or an exemption letter if the organising party is a school or education provider.

How to apply

Please note that:

  • You need to apply for a licence at least 21 days before the performance. In exceptional circumstances, we can issue licences more quickly - contact the Child Employment team for information.
  • If the child is going to miss any school, you need to contact the school before applying and get them to provide a letter stating they're happy for the pupil to do the performance.
  • You may need to arrange for a tutor to accompany the child if they're going to miss a lot of school.

Download a child performance licence application

The form needs to be completed by the person responsible for the production or performance. There is also a section that needs to be completed by the parent.

Send the completed form together with the supporting documents to the Attendance Advisory Service.

What happens next

Although current legislation for the issuing of Child Performance Licence applications requires 21 days’ notice, the Child Employment Officer may grant a licence, if the application is received at least ten working days prior to the performance, if all supporting documents are provided.