Child employment and performing

Child performance licences

When a licence is needed

The Children and Young Persons Act 1963 regulates how and when children can take part in a performance. It means your child will need a licence to take part in performances or entertainment like television, modelling and theatre. Children don’t need a licence once they've reached the minimum school leaving age.

Restrictions on child performances

The Act gives restrictions on the length and time of performances and the affect on education. You should look at these sections to be sure you're complying with the law:

  • education (see Regulation 13)
  • earliest and latest permitted times at place of performance or rehearsal (see Regulation 21)
  • maximum number of hours at place of performance or rehearsal (see Regulation 22)
  • maximum period of continuous performance or rehearsal (see Regulation 22)
  • maximum total hours of performance or rehearsal (see Regulation 22)
  • minimum intervals for meals and rest (see Regulation 23)
  • minimum break between performances (see Regulation 23)
  • maximum consecutive days to take part in performance or rehearsal (see Regulation 26)

Regulation 5 allows us to further restrict permitted hours, breaks etc. and places additional conditions on the licence if this would be in the best interests of the child.

Apply for a child performance licence

Who should apply and where:

  • the licence needs to be granted from the local authority where your child lives, even if the performance is in another borough
  • the company running the show or activity or your child's agent can apply for the licence 
  • you (the parent or guardian) needs to sign the application form

When to apply and how long it will take: 

  • apply at least 21 days before your child needs to perform (the law says we can insist on 21 days notice)
  • we will try to process applications within ten days (this is in agreement with the National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment)

We will grant a licence where:

  • we're satisfied about your child's fitness and about provisions made for his or her health, kind treatment and education
  • there is an authorised chaperone
  • there is a doctor's letter confirming your child is fit enough to take part
  • all the paperwork is in place, such as evidence of your child's age and a letter from your child's school, if the performance is during term time

How to apply

Get your child’s agent or the company running the show or activity to complete the online application form:

  • they complete Part 1 of the form and pass it to you
  • you complete Part 2 and return it to them with two photographs, a copy of your child’s birth certificate and a doctor's letter
  • they send the form to us and we consider the application and issue the licence if everything is ok

If approved

If approved, we'll post the licence to the person whose name is on the front of the form. We’ll also send a copy to:

  • the child’s school, if the performance involves absence, with a letter asking the headteacher to contact us with any concerns
  • the appropriate Education Authority if the child is performing outside the borough

We can withdraw a licence if we’re worried about the child’s welfare in any way.