Public entertainment licence

A licence is required where you intend to have entertainment, such as a dance, concert, variety show or other entertainment to which members of the public are to be admitted. Discounted fees will apply to community, charity, voluntary groups and community centres.

Such a licence is not required in certain circumstances, such as for an athletic or sports ground being used for sports or athletic purposes, or entertainment that is being provided on premises licensed under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 during licensed hours, or if you hold a cinema licence.

Premises/activities which require a public entertainment licence are:

  • Bonfires
  • Bowling Alleys 
  • Bungee Jumping Sites
  • Church Halls (a public entertainment licence shall not be required for a church hall belonging to or occupied by any religious body while being used wholly or mainly for purposes connected with that body)
  • Circuses
  • Community Centres
  • Concert Halls 
  • Concerts 
  • Dance Halls
  • Discotheques
  • Dry Ski Centres 
  • Endurance events 
  • Events which utilise Temporary Demountable Structures (such as marquees, tents, inflatables, stages or platforms) 
  • Fairgrounds – to include any event/activity which utilises funfair equipment including bouncy castles and other inflatable equipment 
  • Firework Displays
  • Go-karting
  • Halls used for Voluntary Organisations
  • Highland Games
  • Ice Rinks
  • Laser Display
  • Laser Games
  • Live Band Performances
  • Martial sports 
  • Motorsports and Rallying
  • Musical Shows or Festivals
  • Paint Ball Games
  • Premises for Health and Fitness including Gyms
  • Public Halls
  • Raves 
  • Roller Skating Rinks
  • Running events with over 100 participants
  • Schools and other Educational Establishments (or parts thereof) within which the number of members of the public admitted to or taking part in any single event or activity at any one time exceeds 60
  • Skateboarding
  • Sports Centres
  • Swimming Pools 
  • Theatrical performances
  • Trampolining
  • Vehicle Stunt Shows

You must not be disqualified from holding a licence and you must be a fit and proper person to be the holder of a licence. You must not have applied for the same licence within the last year, unless there has been a material change in your circumstances since the last application.

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

An application fee is payable (see related content)

Applications must:

  • be in writing (including by electronic means)
  • be signed by the applicant (including by electronic means)
  • contain the applicant's name and address, and those of any employee who will manage the activity on a day-to-day basis, and the area in which the activity is to be carried out

The application must also contain either of the following:

  • A declaration that you will display a notice at the premises for 21 days which contains the details in your licence application and details on how to make representations regarding the application. This should be followed by a certificate to the licensing authority stating that this requirement has been complied with.
  • A declaration that you do not have rights in the premises that enable you to put up a notice, and detailing the reasonable steps that you have made to acquire those rights.

The local authority will:

  • send a copy of the application to the Chief Constable, and where the activity is wholly or mainly to be carried on in premises, the fire authority
  • keep a register of applications in which they will enter the details of the receipt of the application, their final decision and reasons for the decision, the details of the terms of each licence granted and a note of any suspension, variation of the terms, or surrender, of a licence

The register must be available for inspection by any member of the public at reasonable times and places and any member of the public must be permitted to make a copy of it.

Yes, where the local authority fails to make a decision within six months of receipt of the application, the licence is deemed to be granted or renewed.

Within 28 days of the date of the decision to refuse their application, the applicant may require the licence authority to give the reasons for their decision.

The applicant may appeal to the sheriff against the decision, within 28 days of the decision, as long as they have already followed any available procedure in terms of stating their case to the local authority.

The appeal will only be successful if the sheriff considers that the local authority, in making their decision, had:

  • erred in law
  • based their decision on an incorrect material fact
  • acted contrary to natural justice
  • exercised their discretion in an unreasonable manner

The applicant may then appeal on a point of law from the sheriff's decision to the Court of Session within 28 days from the date of the sheriff's decision. Please contact your Local Authority in the first instance.

Objections or representations relating to a licence application may be made in writing to the local authority, within 21 days of notice of the licence application being given, stating:

  • the grounds of the objection or nature of the representation
  • the name and address of the person making the representation

A chief constable, or anyone who has made a relevant objection or representation regarding the licence, may appeal against a decision within 28 days of being notified, as long as they have already followed any available procedure in terms of stating their case to the local authority.

If the local authority decides to suspend a licence, not to renew a licence, or not to consent to material changes to the premises or vehicle used in the course of a licence holder's work, the licence holder may appeal against the decision to the sheriff, within 28 days of being notified, as long as they have already followed any available procedure in terms of stating their case to the local authority.

We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the licence holder - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery). If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, the Citizens Advice Bureau will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.

For advice or to submit an application, contact the Licensing team

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