Children in entertainment

Working in the entertainment industry can be a rewarding and valuable experience for children and young people.

There are strict laws in place to protect children’s welfare and prevent them from being exploited when taking part in theatre performances, filming, modelling activities and paid sport. These apply to children from birth to the end of compulsory school age (the last Friday in June in the school year in which they have their 16th birthday).

Performances that require a licence

Any performance:

  • In connection with which a charge is being made (whether for admission or otherwise)
  • At licensed premises or a registered club
  • That is broadcast, that is recorded by whatever means with a view to it being used in a broadcast, or film intended for public exhibition

Read examples of when a performance licence may or may not be required.

Performance licence application

The person responsible for the production of the performance should make the application for a licence.  This should not be done by an agent.

The person who signs the licence application will be deemed to be the licence holder.  The application must be made to the local authority at least 21 days before the first performance, applications allowing less notice may be refused by the local authority.

Responsibilities of the licence holder

  • To observe any conditions on the licence
  • To ensure children involved in a public performance for which a licence has been issued are cared for either by their parent or by an approved chaperone. It is the responsibility of the licence holder to ensure that there is the appropriate number of chaperones on duty at each performance and that they are providing the supervision required by the law.
  • To maintain records including the details of the child’s performance times and breaks which must be kept for six months after the last performance date on the licence
  • To maintain daily record sheets
  • To immediately inform the child’s parent or carer and the local authority when a child is injured in any way

How to apply for a performance licence

A licence is granted by the local authority where the child lives.  A licence can only be granted by the local authority if they are assured that:

  • The child’s education, health and wellbeing will not suffer
  • The conditions of the licence will be observed

The applicant (person responsible for the production of the performance) completes and signs their part of the performance licence application form and the parent then completes signs the remainder of the form. The complete application is then sent to the local authority with the following items attached:

  • Proof of the child’s date of birth (photocopy of birth certificate or passport)
  • Two identical passport sized photographs
  • A copy of the child’s contract if appropriate
  • Parental declaration of the child’s health
  • Authorisation from the school for any absence that may be required

Children who live outside the UK should be licensed by the local authority where the applicant resides, or has their place of business.  If neither of these is based in the UK the responsibility will normally fall to the local authority in whose area the first performance takes place.

Apply for a child performance licence (Word document, 30 Kb)

Guidance for completing the child performance licence form

This guidance has been produced to assist you in completing the application form. Full and accurate completion of the form will enable us to process the application and issue a licence as efficiently as possible.

The application form has been approved by the Department for Education. It is accepted by all councils and should not be altered in any way.

The applicant should complete Part 1 of the form. It should be forwarded to the parent to complete and sign Part 2. It should then be returned to the applicant who, having full details of the child including any medical conditions they should be aware of, should sign the application form on Page 7.

The completed form together with a copy of the child's birth certificate, 2 photographs of the child taken within the last 6 months, a copy of the contract (if issued) and a letter giving permission for absence from school (if applicable) should be emailed to the local authority where the child resides.

All questions on the form must be answered.

Questions that require particular attention:

  • Question 3. Ensure a full description is included. This information is required to ascertain what conditions if any need to be included on the licence.
  • Question 5: Ensure that the name of the venue and full address including postcode is entered. If the location does not have a postcode, provide the postcode of the nearest building or where the unit base will be located.
  • Questions 6, 7 and 8: Clearly state the dates and time of day the child will be performing. Stating "within permitted hours" is not acceptable. If specific dates are not known a start and end date (not exceeding 6 months) should be entered with the number of days required within that period.
  • Questions 14 and 15: State the name and address of the chaperone and the name of the local authority who has approved them.
  • Declarations: The applicant applying for the licence must sign and date the form on Page 7. The parent must sign and date the form following the medical declaration.

Please note failure to answer all questions will delay the issue of a licence and could result in the application being returned.

Restrictions in relation to all performances

The number of days and times children are allowed to perform are also regulated. Check the restrictions in relation to all performances table for details.


Taking part in performances can be an important part of a child’s education for life.  However the local authority cannot grant a licence unless it is satisfied that the child’s formal education will not suffer by taking part in the performance.  Before granting a licence Bradford Council will liaise with the headteacher of the child’s school to ensure that the child’s education will not suffer should that licence be granted. For longer engagements a private tutor may be required. 


In some circumstances an exemption from the licensing process may be possible:

Four day rule exemption

We can only grant an exemption from performance licensing if the child and no other person is being paid for the child to take part (other than out of pocket expenses), the child is not missing any school and will not have performed for more than 4 days in the last six months. This includes the current performance that is being applied for.

Apply for a four day rule exemption (Word document, 50 Kb)

Performances given under arrangements made by a school

A licence is not required for a child to take part in a performance organised by the child’s school

Body of Persons Approval (BOPA) exemption

Amateur organisations may apply for a Body of Persons Approval which covers multiple children to take part in amateur productions when the children involved are not being paid and do not require any time off school.

BOPA application form (Word document, 22 Kb)

BOPA Contract form (Word document, 40 Kb)

BOPA Notification of children and chaperones form (Word document, 58 Kb)

Exemption applications must be made to the local authority at least 21 days before the first performance, application allowing less notice may be refused by the local authority.

Performing abroad

If a child is to perform abroad this licence is issued by the Magistrates Court and the school will be contacted to authorise the absence by the production company.


A child taking part in a performance must be supervised at all times by a registered chaperone that has been approved by the licensing authority, unless under the direct supervision of their own parent, or person who has parental responsibility for the child. The chaperone is there to ensure that proper provision is made to secure a child’s health, comfort and kind treatment.  They have a responsibility to safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of the child or children in their care.  More information can be found on the information for chaperones page


Periodic inspections of performances taking place are carried out by the local authority  to ensure that the restrictions and conditions laid down in the regulations are being strictly adhered to.

Child performance legislation and guidance

It is a legal requirement to seek a licence when one is required and any person who causes or procures any child to do anything in contravention of the licensing requirement commits an offence and may be subject to a fine, imprisonment or both.

Contact details

Complete applications should be send to

Further information