Child employment

Permits for children who perform

To safeguard children’s health, welfare and education, and to ensure they are not harmed or exploited, children must have a performance licence for any paid work as a model or a performer in any dramatic or sporting activity.

A licence may not be required if the performance is for 4 days or less with no other performance in the last 6 months, if the child is not paid, and if the child will not be absent from school. Performances with school or youth groups are exempt.

The law applies to children from birth to statutory school leaving age (the last Friday in June of the school year in which the child reaches 16).

UK children performing abroad must obtain a licence from their local Magistrates' Court.

The law applies to children from birth to statutory school leaving age (the last Friday in June of the school year in which the child reaches 16).

What counts as a performance?

The term ‘performance’ includes: 

  • any live production
  • any broadcast or recorded production
  • modelling
  • professional sporting activity

In almost every case a child must have a licence to take part in a performance. It is the producer of the performance who must apply for the licence, not the child or the child’s parent.

Applying for a licence

It is the producer of the performance who must apply for the licence (link opens in new window), not the child or their parent.

The producer must return completed forms with all the necessary documents 21 days before the date of the first performance. With the licence application the producer must send:

  • recent passport-sized photographs of the child
  • proof of the child’s date of birth (copy of birth certificate or back page of passport)
  • health declaration
  • letter from the child’s headteacher which agrees to the child’s absence from school and / or confirms that the proposed performances will not be detrimental to the child’s education

A child who takes part in a performance must be looked after by either:

  • a licensed chaperone who is named on the application form
  • the child’s own parent (not by another relative or by the parent of another child)

Applications made less than 10 working days in advance will only be issued at our discretion.

Standard Child Performance and Activities Licence Application Form (England)

We will issue a licence on a legitimate application submitted 21 days in advance, providing that we are satisfied that the child’s needs will be fully met.

We will try to issue a licence on an application submitted less than 21 days in advance.

Applications made less than 10 working days in advance will only be issued at the discretion of the Local Authority.

These timescales allow us to carry out the checks necessary to ensure the child’s safety, health, welfare and educational needs. We must also notify the Local Authority for the area where the performance will take place, so that they can arrange to inspect the event. With only very few exceptions, a child may not perform unless a licence has been issued. Licences cannot be issued retrospectively.

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