Cinema licence

If you intend to exhibit films for the public, you will need a licence.

The legislation is the Cinemas Act 1985. There are a number of exemptions to the requirements for this licence. In summary, this licence is not required for:

  • exhibiting films in a private house to which the public aren't admitted, provided the exhibition is not for private gain
  • non-commercial film exhibitions to which the public aren't admitted, or are admitted without payment
  • non-commercial film exhibitions by certified societies or organisations, certified as not being conducted or established for profit
  • occasional and exceptional exhibitions – where premises are used on no more than 6 days in the calendar year
  • mobile cinemas (other than for where the owner of the mobile unit resides)
  • video games
  • the screening of television programmes at the time they are broadcast

How to apply

Complete and return a Cinema Application Form (Word, 102kb).


All fees can be found on our licence fees webpage.

Please include the fee with your completed application form. Cheques made payable to 'North Ayrshire Council'. If your applications is refused or granted for a shorter period than you applied, the fee will not be refunded or reduced.

What happens next?

We'll inspect the proposed premises to make sure they meet the required standards. Your application will be advertised on this website to allow members of the public to make objections or representations.

If there is any comment from the public, Police Scotland or any council department, you will be told and your application will be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision. If the Committee decides to have a hearing, you will be invited to that and you will be able to speak to the Committee. The majority of applications do not require a hearing and are granted by council officers.

It may take 8 weeks to process your application. If you haven't heard from the Licensing Office please contact us.

How long does the licence last?

If granted, this licence lasts 1 year from the date of issue. The licence can be renewed.

To renew a Licence, you should apply before the current Licence expires. If you do this, you can continue trading after the expiry date stated in the licence for as long as your application is awaiting a decision by the council.

Contact Licensing



01294 310000


Licensing Section, Legal Services, North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE