Public entertainment licence

A public entertainment licence is required for land or premises used as a place of public entertainment where members of the public are admitted, or may use any facilities for the purposes of entertainment or recreation, whether or not there is an entry charge.

If you wish to apply for fireworks display licence you need to submit a separate application form.

Fairgrounds and circuses must always apply for a temporary public entertainment licence, for each location they visit, each time they visit, regardless of whether they are part of a larger event.

View our events guidance for advice on how to plan a public event.


A public entertainment licence is not required for:

  • An athletic or sports ground while being used as such
  • An educational establishment while being used as such
  • Premises belonging to or occupied by any religious body while being used wholly or mainly for purposes connected with that body
  • Premises licensed under the Theatres Act 1968 or the Gambling Act 2005
  • Licensed premises within the meaning of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005
  • Premises in which machines for entertainment or amusement are being provided incidentally to the main purpose or use of the premises where that main purpose or is not as a place of public entertainment
  • Local galas


We may impose conditions on the licence including conditions restricting the use of the premises to a specified kind or kinds of entertainment or recreation; limiting the number of persons to be admitted to the premises; fixing the days and times when the premises may be open for entertainment or recreation.

You are required to have in place a policy of public liability insurance for the operation of the entertainment licence. The minimum level accepted by us is £5 million. Very large events may require £10 million. Fairgrounds require £10 million and should also ensure that they have public liability insurance through the Showmen's Guild.

You will require to submit a health and safety risk assessment along with layout plans (drawn to a suitable scale) with your application. 

Fairground operators must lodge the electrical inspection certificates for all relevant fairground rides with their application. Conditions for Circuses and Fairs can be viewed at PEL – Circuses and Fairs – Conditions (PDF 28KB).

Compliance with Planning, Building Regulations and Food Safety Legislation may also be required.

You must be a fit and proper person and not be disqualified from holding a licence.

You must not have had an application refused for the same licence within the 12 months prior to making your application, unless you have had a material change in circumstances.

The land or premises must be suitable for the type of entertainment or recreation that it is proposed to take place there.

Conditions for Miscellaneous Events can be viewed at PEL – Miscellaneous Events – Conditions (PDF 73KB).

Conditions for Temporary licences can be viewed at PEL (Temporary) – Miscellaneous Events – Conditions (PDF 30KB).

Conditions for Halls can be viewed at PEL – Halls – Conditions (PDF 21KB).

Telling us about any changes

You must notify us in writing of any changes to the details of the Licence. This information should be submitted, in writing, within one month of the changes taking place.

If the need for the licence becomes redundant, you should surrender the licence to us as soon as possible.

Application fee

An application fee is payable. The fee must be paid at the same time the application for the licence is lodged with us. The fee is non-refundable.

You can pay by either:

Unfortunately we are unable to accept payment by BACs, cheques or cash.

The application will not be considered competent until the fee is paid.

Public entertainment licence type Fee
Hall (3 year) £109
Hall – Charities and voluntary organisations (3 year) £106
Fairground (one off) £166
Small event (one off) £228.50
Small event - charities and voluntary organisations (one off) £111
Event (3 year) £452
Event - charities and voluntary organisations (3 year) £116.50
Large complex event (3 year) £904
Large complex event - charities and voluntary organisations (3 year) £235

How to apply

Applications must be submitted a minimum of eight weeks prior to the event.

You can apply for a public entertainment licence online, however we may request additional information due to limitations with the online system.

Alternatively you can apply in paper by completing the relevant application:

Please send your competed form by email to or by post to, please note physical mail is only checked once a week:

Aberdeenshire Council
Legal and People
Arduthie Road
AB39 2DQ

If you are unable to complete the forms, please call us and we will assist you to apply over the telephone.

Supporting documents

You will need to supply additional documents with your application:

  • Layout plan (drawn to scale)
  • Event safety plan - view our event guidance for more information
  • Public liability insurance for £5 million for small/low risk events but £10 million for larger/high risk events

Displaying a site notice

At the same time as lodging your application for a licence, you must display the appropriate site notice (PDF 85KB), at the location from which your business is to operate, for a period of 21 days.

Thereafter, you must submit a certificate of compliance (PDF 69KB) to us, stating that the site notice was correctly displayed, or explaining why you were unable to display the site notice.

Failure to provide the necessary information and documentation, or the application fee, will result in the inability to further process the application. Full approval will not be granted until the required information and documentation has been provided, examined and deemed satisfactory, and the application has been fully processed.

Application process

Full approval will not be granted until the required information and documentation has been provided, examined and deemed satisfactory, and the application has been fully processed.

If your application is submitted six to eight weeks before the event you must provide us with a written explanation as to the reason the application is late. It will then be up to the Chair of the Area Committee for the area the event will take place in. We cannot accept an application for any form of public entertainment Licence less than six weeks prior to the event. 

You are not permitted to operate the public entertainment until such time as a public entertainment licence has been issued to you.

We will send a copy of your application to Police Scotland, Planning Services, Building Services, and others (our consultees).

In the absence of objections or adverse representations, your licence will be issued to you under delegated authority.

Where objections or adverse representations are made, your application will be referred to the appropriate Committee of Aberdeenshire Council for consideration.

Duration of the licence

If granted, your licence will come into effect on the date specified on the licence. Licences are normally granted for 3 years, unless a shorter period is specified.