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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1 - From what age do children no longer require a performance licence?

From birth to the statutory school leaving age children will come under Performance Licence legislation. A child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday of June in the academic year in which they turn 16. Production still have a duty of care for all children until they are 18 years of age. 

FAQ 2 - Does a child performer require tutoring? 

Regulation 13 Education – states among other things, that a licence must not be granted unless the licensing authority is satisfied the child's education will not suffer by taking part in the performance or activities.

Many licensing authorities want to know when they should put tuition in place i.e. what is the trigger point.  Unfortunately the regulations do not state if the child requires absence from school for more than a specified number of days then tuition by a private teacher must be put in place.

The decision must be based on whether the child's education will suffer by taking part in the performance, on the particular performance in question and on the needs of  the individual child.  There is not a one size fits all.

Section 2 Regulation 13 Education in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing gives a number of examples of when tuition would be appropriate and explains the regulation in detail including the aggregation of hours.

FAQ 3. Can a child be chaperoned by their grandparents or extended family members? 

A child can only be chaperoned by a an approved Chaperone approved by a Local Authority, as per the Performance Regulations, by their parent or carer who has parental responsibility (PR) for them, or by their usual teacher. In order for a grandparent, aunt/uncle, step parents who don't have PR, or older siblings to chaperone a child they would need to become an approved chaperone. In order to do this they would need to contact the Local Authority where they live and request an application pack. 

FAQ 4 - Do music hub performances need to be licensed? 


Section 1.3.6 of the Department for Education Advice 2015 makes it clear that section 37(3)(b) of the 1963 Act only applies to 'schools' within the meaning of relevant Education Acts.  This would not include Music Hubs, local authority Music Services, Arts Councils and other third parties, so performances arranged by them cannot be exempt under that section.  A Music Hub must apply for the appropriate licence or exemption.  In the majority of cases this will be a Body of Persons Approval providing they are able to satisfy the criteria.

See Section 8 Performance organised by School Music Hubs/Music Services in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing. 

FAQ 5 - If a child takes part in a festival does it need to be licensed?

If a festival meets any of the criteria specified in section 37(2) of the 1963 Act then it falls under child performance licensing legislation and the organiser must apply for either a licence or appropriate exemption (in the majority of cases this will be a Body of Persons Approval).

See Section 4 Body of Persons Approval p54 Festivals (Dance, Drama, Music, Speech) and 'Competitions' in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing. 

FAQ 6 - Is there any guidance for when a child needs to stay away from home overnight?

Regulation 16 Accommodation states the licensing authority must approve the accommodation where a child will be staying and also give the local authority the power to impose conditions regarding transport, arrangement for meals and any other conditions to ensure the child's welfare.

Section 2 Regulation 16 Accommodation in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing goes into more detail and gives examples of types of accommodation and additional conditions to be considered to ensure the child's welfare. 

FAQ 7 - Can a child perform at night?

A child can perform at night, however as the latest permitted hour for children under 5 years is 10pm and 11pm for those over 5 years the demand for 'night work' should be rare.

A licensing authority does not have to permit 'night work', the regulation states they may permit.  Each request should be viewed on its' merits and whether it is reasonable.

See Section 2 Regulation 28 Night Work in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing.

FAQ 8 - Can a child be absent from school in order to perform? 


However, if a child is required to be absent from school to take part in a performance then a licence will be required.

See Section 7 Absence from School in  A Guide to Child Performance Licensing. 

FAQ 9 - Can a child take part in a dangerous performance?


Section 23 Prohibition against children taking part in performances endangering life or limb of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 states it is an offence for any person (or parent who allows it) to allow a child under school leaving age to take part in a performance in which his life or limbs are endangered.  A performance of a dangerous nature includes all acrobatic performances and all performances as a contortionist.

With the increased incidence of new forms of dance the distinction between dance and acrobatic routines can become blurred.  Licensing authorities should consider each situation on a case by case basis and seek advice from their departments if required.  Further reference should be made to Section 3 The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 section 23 in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing. 

FAQ 10 - Is a licence needed if a child from the UK is travelling abroad to perform?

If the child is travelling abroad to perform for profit then a licence will be required.  The licence will be issued by a justice of the peace from the magistrates' court in the district where the child resides. 

The issuing of licences for children performing abroad for profit does not fall within the remit of local authorities.  See Section 25 Restrictions on children going abroad for the purpose of performing for profit of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

FAQ 11 - Are licences required when a child from outside the UK comes here to perform? If so, who do I apply to for a licence? 

Yes, a licence is required for a child entering the UK from abroad to perform.  Section 37(1)(b) of the 1963 Act states the licence should be issued by the local authority where licence applicant resides or has his place of business.

If the licence applicant does not reside or have a place of business in Great Britain then best practice should be that the licence is issued by the local authority where the performance is taking place.

See Section 1 The Children and Young Persons Act 1963 section 37(1) in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing.

FAQ 12 - Can children perform in advertisements for alcohol? 

If LA's get any applications or enquires about children in alcohol advertisements you need to refer the company to the guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority and Committee of advertising practice and be very clear what the ad is for. The guidance document for this is available in the Downloads on this page. 

The guidance from ASA / CAP (page 9) says it should not appeal to young people and pages 10 and 11 says they can’t be under 25, although it may be possible for a child to be a background character in an advertisement. 

FAQ 13 - Do Voice-Overs need a performance licence?

Children taking part in voice-over recordings need a performance licence in the same way as any other performance. A licence will always be required if the child or another person is receiving payment for the child’s performance or the child is absent from school to make the recording. Voice-overs recorded in ‘home studios’ still require licensing. The person responsible for organising, producing or running the performance and who will be present and making all the decisions about the welfare and kind treatment of the child should apply for the performance licence. In the case of a recording in a ‘home studio’ this may be the parent. 
All aspects of the child performance regulations will still apply. The Local Authority may consider whether the issue of a licence for a certain number of days within a six month period, is the appropriate form of a licence to issue. If so, they may attach conditions to the licence such as requiring the producer to inform the LA in advance the details of each recording, and the LA may request copies of daily record sheets and make inspections to monitor the safeguarding of the child taking part in voiceovers. In the event of any concerns the LA may withdraw the licence.

FAQ 14 - What is meant by 'Time at Place of Performance'?

Regulation 22 details the maximum number of hours children of different ages are permitted to be at the place of performance. The place of performance may be any where, including a theatre, film or TV studio, Village Hall, or it may be a film location some distance from the studio. In the case of a theatre, the ‘place of performance’ is obviously the whole building and the time a child is at the place of performance starts when they arrive at the stage door and runs until they are collected by their parent or appropriate adult at the end of the day. In the case of filming on location the Place of Performance includes not just the set location, but the Unit Base, mobile dressing rooms, makeup trailers, tutoring rooms, and all rest rooms, in or around the filming location even if these are some distance from each other. The time the child is allowed to be at the place of performance starts when they arrive at the Unit Base (their call time) and continues until they leave to go home, no matter how many of these different places they may need to be at during the course of their day filming.

FAQ 15 - How Long is a Performance Licence Valid for?

Performance licenses are issued for the child to perform on specific dates as requested on the application form (see Reg.8(e) Form of licence). Where the specific dates of the performance(s) are not known at the time the application is made, the licensing authority may issue the performance licence for a certain number of days between 2 specified dates. The period between these 2 dates may be up to 6 months long (see Reg. 6). A licence will expire on the last performance date specified on the licence or if the licence has been issued for a period between 2 dates, at the end of the last day of the dates specified on the licence.  Any amendments to the licence can only be issued prior to the licence expiring. Once a licence has expired it is no longer valid and cannot be extended, altered or amended; a new application should be submitted.

FAQ 16 - Can a licence that has expired less than 6 months ago be extended?

No. As in FAQ 15, once a licence has expired, it is no longer valid and cannot be extended, altered, or amended. A new application should be submitted. A licence can only be amended or extended BEFORE it expires. Any request to extend an expired licence to facilitate the last minute licensing of a child, places the production and the child at risk. The Local Authority must be able to evaluate all aspects of the performance to ensure the safeguarding of the child. A new application containing all relevant information must therefore be submitted.

FAQ 17 - Can a Local Authority vary a performance licence issued by another local authority under S39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963?

Yes but only under certain circumstances. This section is designed to enable a local authority in who’s area the performance is taking place to vary or revoke a licence issued by another local authority if they become aware of a problem, for example when making an inspection, and believe that any of the conditions on which the licence was granted are not being followed and/or the health and kind treatment of the child is at risk.  This section relates specifically to the safeguarding elements and conditions of the licence and gives the issuing local authority and the inspecting local authority the power to revoke or vary the licence; it is not to be used to circumvent any resourcing difficulties or other issues an applicant may be encountering with the issuing authority.  Any LA which intends to vary or revoke a licence must consult with the original issuing LA, and inform any LA affected by the change. 

FAQ 18 - Why does a Local Authority require a letter from the child's school?

A Local Authority cannot grant a performance licence unless they are satisfied that the child's education will not suffer because they are taking part in the particular performance (CYPA 1963 S37(4)) When absence from school is required a Local Authority will request permission from the school, for the child to be absent, for the particular dates involved. This needs to be provided in writing. If the school believes that taking part in the particular performance will result in the child's education suffering, they must inform the LA and provide the reasons why, eg, missing homework, declining grades, inability to concentrate due to tiredness, clash of dates with public exams, attendance required at specific one-off events etc. Failure to meet attendance targets alone, would not normally be sufficient evidence? If the LA does not receive sufficient evidence that the child's education will suffer, they will not be able to decline the application on educational grounds and if all other aspects of the application are OK the LA must issue.


FAQ 19 - If a production wish to engage a child in their production under the '4day rule' what do they need to do?

If a child has not performed at all in the last six months, they may be able to perform for up to 4 days without the need for a performance licence provided they are not missing any school and are not being paid, nor someone being paid on their behalf. 
A detailed explaination of these circumstances can be found on page 10 of the NNCEE Guide to Child Licensing, under Section 37(3) The Four Day Rule.

NNCEE Guide to Child Licensing The 4 Day Rule

Production must have reasonable grounds for believing the child has not performed in any sort of performance, licensed or unlicensed, in the previous six months. Best practice would be to obtain written confirmation of this from the parent. In addition it is also best practice for the responsible person to advise the local authority where the child resides, that they wish to engage the child making use of this 4 day exemption. Some local authorities have an exemption notification form to make this easier. The Local Authority may issue a confirmation email or Exemption Form, which the production can then have available as proof that the child can perform without a performance licence under this exemption in the event of an inspection or investigation. 


Alcohol TV Ads guidance
NNCEE A Guide to Child Performance Licensing August 2020