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Children in entertainment

If you are producing a performance which involves a child of compulsory school age or below, you may need to apply for a performance licence, Body of Person Approval (BOPA) or an exemption letter from the local authority in which the child lives.

You will require a licence for a performance if it:

  • is charged for - whether that charge is for admission or in payment to the child or another person
  • is taking place on licensed premises (eg a theatre, public house, club or a hotel)
  • is paid sport or photographic or stills modelling
  • is for a child performing more than 4 days in any 6-month period (over one or more performances)
  • requires a child to be absent from school

The person responsible for the production is required to apply for a licence by completing and returning the following Standard child performance application (pdf) (PDF) [80KB] at least 21 days before the first performance.

A BOPA allows groups and organisations to have an umbrella licence for their performance. This means you don't need a licence for each individual child as the BOPA covers the organisation, further information on how to apply for a BOPA can be found in the guidance notes (pdf) (PDF) [134KB]  and application form (pdf) (PDF) [126KB] .

Licenses/BOPAs will only be granted if the authority is satisfied that all relevant conditions are met and that all applicable information has been provided. All children taking part in performances must be chaperoned.

Children performing abroad will also need a licence, the Local Authority is not responsible for issuing these licences, applicants are required to contact the magistrates' court nearest to where the child lives. Further information can be found in the Children and Young People Act 1933.

More information regarding child performance licensing can be found on the GOV.UK website and in the DFE guidance on Child Performance and Activities Licensing Legislation in England. For advice on keeping children in music, drama, dance, television and theatre safe go to the NSPCC website.

For more information, including details of performance licences and Body of Approvals, please contact:

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