Who needs a cinema licence?
If you show films to paying members of the public, you need a valid cinema licence.
Even if you don’t need a licence, you may still need to notify us about your film showings.
Whether you require a licence or not, you’ll need to make sure that film showings at your premises are adequately supervised. You must also ensure that your premises comply with relevant health and safety, and fire safety legislation.
How to apply
To apply for or renew a cinema licence, post us a completed application form, along with the relevant documents and fee.
You can download the application form on this page or call our licensing team on 0300 303 1777. You can also call in to our offices and pick up the relevant documents.
If you are applying for a licence for a new cinema, you should submit your application at least three months before you intend to begin operating. You should not show films at your premises until we issue you with a valid cinema licence.
If you need advice on the application process, please contact us.
Renewing an existing licence
We will send you a reminder letter to renew your licence – you must make your renewal application at least one month before your current cinema licence expires. Once you have made your renewal application you can continue to operate your premises until we notify you of our decision.
All cinema licences are granted for a period of 12 months and are subject to standard conditions dealing with matters such as days and hours of use, Sunday showings, children’s showings and safety requirements.
Special permission for additional hours and Sunday film showings
Standard cinema licence hours are Monday to Saturday, 8am – 1am the following morning.
If you want to show films outside these hours (or on a Sunday) you should include this by ticking the relevant boxes on the application or renewal form.
Fee amount – £325
A child is regarded as a person under the age of 16 years.
If you want to show films to children you should tick the box ‘Special Permission for Children’s Showings’ on your application form.
If you are usually exempt from needing a cinema licence, or you already have a cinema licence but it doesn’t cover children’s showings, you need to notify us if you are going to show films to children.
Cinema licence conditions
Once a cinema licence has been granted you must comply with all its terms and conditions.
Please contact us for more information about standard cinema licensing conditions.
• It is an offence to show films without a cinema licence unless an exemption applies.
• It is also an offence to breach the conditions of a cinema licence.
• Breaches of the cinema licensing legislation can lead to a cinema licence being revoked, as well as you being fined up to £20,000.
Cinema licence exemptions
A cinema licence is not required if you’re showing films for six days or less in a calendar year. However, you must notify us (in writing) at least 14 days before the film showings.
We will then notify Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Registered charity or a not-for-profit organisation
If you can provide evidence that the films being showed are for a registered charity or not-for-profit organisation you may be exempt from needing a licence, depending on the film showing.
You will not need a cinema licence to show films if:
• the films are not shown for private gain – although you may charge sums to cover expenses, or
• the main purpose of the films is advertising or providing information.
You will need a cinema licence if:
• the main purpose of the premises or organisation is for showing films to children, such as in film clubs, or
• your premises were used to show a film on more than three out of the last seven days.
If a grant, renewal or transfer of a cinema licence application is refused or where terms, conditions or restrictions are imposed, you have the right to appeal our decision to the County Court.
A cinema licence is not granted until you receive formal confirmation from us. You should not show films at your premises until we issue you with a valid cinema licence.